Public Release: 

UBC leads alliance to improve science education with Sloan grant

The University of British Columbia is partnering with seven top North American universities to study how they can speed up the adoption of improved teaching techniques in science classrooms

University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia is partnering with seven top North American universities to study how they can speed up the adoption of improved teaching techniques in science classrooms.

The Bay View Alliance (BVA) - which includes Queen's University, University of California Davis, University of Kansas, University of Saskatchewan, Indiana University Bloomington, the University of Texas Austin and UBC - is launched today with $803,942 from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

"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, a UBC physics professor and principal investigator for the BVA network.

"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 investigate how university leaders at all levels can best support the widespread adoption of effective and evidence-based teaching methods. An Alliance research hub, led by Whitehead, will coordinate and will amalgamate and disseminate the findings.

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 pedagogical expertise to help faculty incorporate active learning techniques into large science courses. Their learning goals will be evaluated, and campuses will explore how solutions can be implemented more widely.

"Innovation in teaching is critical to supporting learning in key STEM disciplines," says 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."


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.

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.

About the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative

Since its launch in 2007, the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative has reviewed, evaluated and transformed classes taken by more than 20,000 UBC students. More than 50 courses in seven departments in the Faculty of Science are undergoing or have finished transformation. The work has attracted international attention and support, including a $2-million gift from Google's founding investor and UBC alumnus David Cheriton in 2010.

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