A Preliminary Case Study of SCALE Activities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison: Factors Influencing Change Initiatives in STEM Undergraduate Education, Teacher Training, and Partnerships with K-12 Districts

WCER Working Paper No. 2007-2

Matthew T. Hora and Susan B. Millar

February 2007, 54 pp.

ABSTRACT: This report on the SCALE Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) case studies line of work provides preliminary findings about SCALE activities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. This study focuses on the structural and behavioral dynamics influencing the implementation of the core SCALE strategies for effecting change in IHEs: (a) reform undergraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses; (b) promote collaboration between STEM and education departments regarding pre-service teacher education, (c) promote collaboration between IHEs and K–12 districts regarding in-service professional development; and (d) improve institutional policies and practices at the IHE level that support faculty engaged in pre- and in-service activities. Preliminary findings indicate that these strategies face significant barriers at UW-Madison due to institutional policies and practices that favor research over teaching and service, limited time available for faculty to participate in SCALE activities, and pervasive tensions between STEM and education faculty. Despite these challenges, SCALE is making progress in each of these areas. Through the Math Masters and Immersion Unit professional development programs for K–12 math and science teachers, SCALE is engaging STEM faculty in learning and modeling inquiry-based pedagogy, which is influencing the faculty’s conception of their own teaching and of K–12 issues. Through the co-construction of professional development materials and the co-facilitation of the actual professional development sessions, SCALE is introducing a new, more collaborative and mutually beneficial partnership between UW-Madison and the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). The emerging partnership between the UW-Madison Mathematics Department and MMSD is resulting in greater faculty attention to K–12 issues and informing efforts to revise the mathematics curriculum for pre-service elementary education candidates.

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keywords: Institutional Change; Reform; Partnership; Pre-Service Teacher Education; STEM Education