Self-Study as a Method for Engaging STEM Faculty in Transformative Change to Improve Teaching

Anastasia P. Samaras
George Mason University, College of Education & Human Dev

Margret Hjalmarson
George Mason University

Lori C Bland
George Mason University

Jill K. Nelson
George Mason University

Emily K. Christopher
George Mason University

Reform efforts in the teaching of undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) have included introducing faculty to specific teaching strategies and engaging them in collaborative initiatives. This study examined the experiences of STEM faculty learning interactive teaching strategies while also learning and applying self-study methodology in a year-long faculty self-study learning community. We used self-study methodology as an innovative design to support STEM faculty’s research about their teaching. Drawing on multiple sources of data, the researchers found that although participants reported that learning self-study methodology was unique and complex, they embraced the problematic and sophisticated nature of self-study to examine their teaching while recognizing the close link between teaching and research. As they reflected on their professional identities as teachers, they gained a better understanding of their role in their students’ learning. Supporting faculty’s small changes in teaching can lead to larger changes over time. Self-study methodology can reinforce the change process. The self-study learning community design may be useful as a catalyst for developing an advanced teaching trajectory for STEM faculty and useful for faculty from various disciplines. Implications for impacting individual and institutional capacity in higher education are discussed.

Copyright © 2019, International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education