The Colorado Learning Assistant (LA) model, recognized nationally as a hallmark teacher recruitment and preparation program, has run a national workshop annually for four years to disseminate and scale the program. This project expands the existing annual workshop to address changing needs of participants and to prepare eight additional faculty members to lead new regional workshops. Workshop sessions integrate crosscutting concepts, scientific practices, and engineering design as articulated in the Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012). Infusing the Frameworks into the workshop helps STEM faculty better understand their role in preparing future K-12 teachers to implement the new standards, by transforming their own undergraduate courses in ways that actively engage students in modeling, argumentation, making claims from evidence, and engineering design. The National Science Foundation (NSF), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the American Physical Society's PhysTEC project, and University of Colorado-Boulder, provide resources for national workshops in 2013 and 2014 allowing 80 additional math, science, and engineering faculty from a range of institutions to directly experience the LA model and to learn ways to implement, adapt, grow, and sustain a program on their own campuses. Evaluation of the project focuses on long-term effects of workshop participation and contributes to efforts to strengthen networks within the international Learning Assistant Alliance. The launching of 10 - 12 new LA programs is anticipated, and many existing programs will expand into new STEM departments as a result of the national workshops.
Workshop participants are awarded travel grants and in return, provide data each year for two years so that long-term impacts of the workshop can be evaluated. Online surveys provide data about each institution's progress in setting up a program, departments in which the program runs, number of faculty involved, number of courses transformed, numbers of teachers recruited, and estimated number of students impacted. These data provide correlations between workshop attendance and new program development, and allow the computation of national cost per impacted student as well as the average cost per STEM teacher recruited. Anonymous data are made available to International Learning Assistant Alliance partners to promote collaborative research and materials development across sites.
The 2013 and 2014 national workshops train eight faculty members who have experience running LA programs to offer regional workshops for local university and community college faculty members. This provides even greater potential for teacher recruitment and preparation through the LA model and for data collection from diverse institutions. This two-year project has potential to support 320 math, science, and engineering faculty as they transform their undergraduate courses in ways consistent with the Frameworks, in turn affording tens of thousands of undergraduate students (and hundreds of future teachers) more and better opportunities to engage with each other and with STEM content through the use of scientific and engineering practices. STEM faculty who participate in what appears to be an easy to adopt process of course transformation through the LA model, become more aware of issues in educational diversity, equity, and access leading to fundamental transformations in the way education is done in a department and at an institution, ultimately leading to sustained policy changes and shared vision of equitable, quality education.