The main goal of the PRIMERS (Promoting Research-based Instructional Methods for Enhancing and Reforming STEM Education) initiative is to provide professional development opportunities for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) faculty/instructors that focuses on moving from traditional, lecture-based instruction to student-centered active-learning. Using an existing evidenced-based program called Learning by Design, the research team will use course design principles and research-based instructional strategies in effort to promote the utilization of active learning instruction. Additionally, the PRIMERS initiative aims to test the evidenced-based Learning by Design program across various types of higher education institutions. The three participating institutions – University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, University of Colorado Boulder, and Front Range Community College – include an R1 research institution, a Hispanic-serving institution that is also an emerging research institution, and a teaching focused community college system.
The Methodology and Evaluation Research Core (MERC) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has been contracted to assess department and institutional structures, culture, knowledge, and attitudes/support regarding the value of teaching and teaching styles. The evaluation includes assessing teaching experiences of participants who attended the roundtable sessions; familiarity with active learning, research-based instructional strategies, and course design principles; challenges and barriers to implementing active learning in courses; perceptions of potential program effectiveness; and recommendations for future implementation.