News Release

Sloan Foundation grant to help improve higher education teaching and learning

Grant and Award Announcement

Bay View Alliance

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has granted $803,942 over four years to support the launch of the Bay View Alliance (the "BVA"), a new network of universities conducting leading research to improve undergraduate teaching and learning.

The network is currently comprised of seven top North American research universities: Indiana University, Bloomington; Queen's University; University of British Columbia; University of California, Davis; University of Kansas; University of Saskatchewan; and University of Texas, Austin.

The BVA project will seek to understand the kinds of leadership practices that can best support the widespread adoption of effective teaching methods, with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

"Education researchers have built up a robust body of knowledge about what works – and what doesn't – when teaching science to undergraduates," says Lorne Whitehead, Professor of Physics at the University of British Columbia and Principal Investigator of the BVA project, "yet for reasons we don't completely understand, that knowledge has had trouble making its way into classrooms and curricula. We're studying what leaders at every level, including those among the faculty, can do to help fix that."

The BVA will examine leadership practices on its partner campuses by designing and implementing a range of pilot intervention efforts, and then studying the results of these interventions to gauge their effect on the adoption rate of evidence-based teaching approaches.

For example, one cluster of campuses will focus on resources that provide support for course redesign. Modeled in part on UBC's Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative, this effort will assign educators with disciplinary and pedagogical expertise to help faculty redesign large STEM courses for more active learning. Their learning goals and final outcomes will then be systematically evaluated. Campuses will compare results and explore how such an intervention could be institutionalized more widely.

The BVA is an innovative and unique collaboration both within universities (between administrators, department heads, and faculty), and across its partner campuses. A BVA "Research Hub" will facilitate these high-impact collaborations and help to disseminate the findings.

"Innovation in teaching is critical to supporting learning in key STEM disciplines," said Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Program Director Elizabeth S. Boylan. "The Foundation is excited to partner with the Bay View Alliance in its efforts to learn and disseminate information on the best ways to spread the adoption of evidence-based teaching methods in undergraduate STEM education, efforts that will, in turn, provide benefits to both the faculty and their students."

"The BVA will be an exciting contribution to the future of STEM education on university campuses," said Howard Gobstein, Executive Vice President of Research, Innovation, and STEM Education at the Association of Public Land Grant Universities (APLU). "We are delighted that the advances in teaching methods for undergraduate STEM education to be studied by the BVA also have significant potential to enhance the preparation of science and math teachers for secondary school, which is the focus of the new APLU Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative. I applaud the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's vision in supporting this important project."


About the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., then-President and Chief Executive Officer of the General Motors Corporation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grant making institution that supports original research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and economic performance. The BVA project is supported through the foundation's STEM Higher Education program, which aims to increase the quality and diversity of higher education in STEM fields.

About the Bay View Alliance

The Bay View Alliance (BVA) is a network of universities carrying out applied research on the leadership of cultural change for increasing the adoption of improved teaching methods at universities. BVA aims to identify and evaluate more effective ways for those of influence at all levels of a university to inspire and enable enhancements of teaching and learning, through adjustments to common educational methods and procedures. Currently, BVA has seven member universities (Indiana University, Bloomington; Queen's University; University of British Columbia; University of California, Davis; University of Kansas; University of Saskatchewan; and University of Texas, Austin).

Contact: David Stewart, Program Manager for the Bay View Alliance: (650) 288-9522.

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