Mines engineering better learning

Sam Spiegel, director of the Trefny Innovative Instruction Center, speaks during a recent faculty forum.

GOLDEN, Colo., March 7, 2016 – Colorado School of Mines is undertaking an historic initiative to transform instruction at the university through a new program that supports faculty to re-engineer their courses.

The program, co-supported by Mines and by an endowment created by former Mines President Dr. John Trefny and his wife Sharon, will involve 10 percent of Mines faculty during this first year. Twenty-nine professors will participate in this intense month-long learning and working session in June 2016. It will include classes, readings, and time to work alongside pedagogy and curriculum experts as faculty design or revise a targeted course. Professors participating in workshop and collaborative activities during June will have their revised courses ready for the fall 2016 semester. Ongoing support and analysis of effectiveness of the changes will continue throughout the school year.

“The overall intent is to systemically enhance teaching and learning at Mines. This first year aims to directly impact 25 courses, plus develop a cohort of faculty who can be resources on campus to expand the effort,” said Sam Spiegel, director of the Trefny Center.

Mines President Paul Johnson was involved in identifying priorities and considering desired characteristics of the first cohort. A committee including Mines’ three college deans and the provost ranked the applications based on their proposed innovations, considering the potential impact to student learning, retention, and completion rates, and other factors.

“Mines aspires to be the recognized university leader in STEM education, and that begins with our programs delivered on campus. I am excited by the strong response of our Mines faculty to participate in this program, and look forward to seeing the impact of these innovations on our students’ learning and success,” Johnson said.

Funding assistance for the program is provided in part by the Dr. John and Mrs. Sharon Trefny endowment, the Trefny Innovative Instruction Center Support Fund, and the Mines Provost Office. For more information, see the Trefny Center website.

Pilot efforts in line with this initiative began last summer and early results indicate significant impact on student learning. In one course, an experimental design was used to evaluate the impact of the course revisions. Students were randomly assigned to course sections. Common exams were given in the modified course section (section D) with sections that maintained the lecture-style format (sections A-C). Early analysis shows significant shifts in learning and grades as illustrated here:

 

Contact:
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 | kgilbert@mines.edu
Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 | kmorton@mines.edu