The University of Michigan began a campus-wide program to reinvent introductory teaching and learning in the core STEM disciplines in January 2014. REBUILD (Researching Evidence-Based Undergraduate Instructional and Learning Developments) is a University of Michigan project funded by the National Science Foundation WIDER program. Following the goals of WIDER, the mission of REBUILD is to transform the University of Michigan into an environment that promotes recruitment, retention, and academic excellence in STEM by improving learning outcomes for all students in STEM courses. Toward this end, the REBUILD aims to catalyze the use of evidence-based teaching methods and promote a culture of scholarly teaching. REBUILD is implementing numerous strategies to achieve these goals:
- REBUILD Committee: The project is implemented by a committee of faculty and postdoctoral researchers affiliated with the departments of Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Math, and Physics as well as the School of Education and U-M Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT). This committee evolved into a supportive community of practice by meeting regularly to discuss the literature on evidence-based teaching in STEM education and share lessons learned from pedagogical experiments.
- Course Reform: The REBUILD committee is leading course reforms to improve introductory sequences in their science departments, reaching thousands of students with improved teaching methods such as authentic research, flipped classrooms, student cooperation, and other active learning methods. To lend stability to these courses, the reforms have been led by multi-generational teams of instructional faculty, postdoctoral researchers supported in-full or in–part by the REBUILD grant, and graduate and undergraduate students.
- Cultural Change: The REBUILD committee is leading reform-from-within processes such as presentations in departmental colloquia to cultivate a new culture of scholarly teaching within STEM departments.
- Assessment Supported by Learning Analytics: A REBUILD learning analytics specialist is helping STEM faculty collect and analyze student data to evaluate the effectiveness of innovative teaching methods for promoting students’ gains toward course-specific learning goals, with an emphasis on closing gender-based and other achievement gaps.
REBUILD ends in 2016, and the project committee is seeking ways to perpetuate the instructional support and other benefits it has provided to departments. Toward this end, in partnership with the U-M Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT), REBUILD is leading the Foundational Course Initiative.