Taking a closer look at the Teacher-Centered Systemic Reform (TCSR) model: In-depth explorations of factors influencing STEM instructors' instructional practices.

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0003-4811-1271
Shi, Lu, Chemistry - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Stains, Marilyne, AS-Chemistry, University of Virginia

In the last decades, there have been numerous national calls for transforming instructional practices in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses to enhance the retention of students interested in pursuing STEM majors and the level of science literacy of non-STEM majors. Despite these calls and associated efforts to propagate the usage of research-based instructional innovations, the majority of STEM faculty members are still using lecturing as the primary way of teaching STEM courses. The discipline-based education research community has uncovered several barriers and drivers to the adoption of these instructional innovations. However, more research is needed to understand the lack of propagation. In this dissertation, we leveraged the Teacher-Centered Systemic Reform (TCSR) model to identify and explore different factors that could serve as barriers or drivers of instructional innovation.
The first project aimed at characterizing departmental climate around teaching, a contextual factor often posited as a barrier to instructional innovation by instructors, and its relationship to instructors' uptake of learner-centered instructional strategies. Results indicate that some elements that are essential to define departmental collective climate around teaching are lacking (e.g., policies, practices, expectations). Moreover, we found that psychological collective climate was not related to instructors' uptake of learner-centered instructional practice.
The second project discussed the evaluation of teaching practices, which is often proposed in the literature as a driver of innovation. In this study, we explored the complementarity of two instruments, the Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS) and the Learner-centered Teaching Rubrics (LCTR), in measuring pedagogical practices. Analysis of the data indicated a partial misalignment between the two instruments (COPUS and LCTR) in measuring teaching practices and pointed out the importance to consider the purpose of evaluation when selecting the evaluation instrument.
Lastly, the third project focused on exploring the relationships between instructors' thinking about teaching and learning as well as their practices within the TCSR model. In particular, we explored general chemistry instructors' conceptions of assessment and their associated practices. The analysis of assessment practices showed that summative assessment tools were still the predominant means for instructors to evaluate students' learning in general chemistry. Instructors demonstrated a variety of rationales for assessing their students, however, most aligned with a summative perspective on assessment. We also found that instructors who recognized both summative and formative purposes for assessing students used more formative assessment. However, there were some inconsistencies between their conceptions about assessment and their practices which points to the complexity of measuring the connection between instructor's thinking and instructional practices.
In summary, this dissertation explored the complex relationships among contextual factors, teacher thinking, and instructors' practices proposed by the TCSR model in teaching STEM courses. While significant advances have been made to understand barriers and drivers of instructional innovations, the results of these studies demonstrate the challenges and messiness in capturing factors influencing instructors' practices.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Teacher-Centered Systemic Reform (TCSR), Departmental Climate around Teaching, Assessment in General Chemistry, Instructional Practices
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