Michelle Withers knows that can be a difficult task without training. "I had been trying to improve my teaching, but I didn't know what to do," says Withers, now a biology professor at West Virginia University. "I was still rewriting the book on PowerPoint slides. I was still the talking head."
Withers attended the Summer Institute in 2004 and was so excited by what she learned that she started telling everyone about it. First, she told her colleagues. Then she set up workshops for faculty and teaching assistants. Eventually, Withers acquired NSF funding to run her own regional Summer Institute. "I really drank the Kool-Aid," Withers says.
Now, because of the Summer Institute and other education initiatives, Withers thinks it is easier to find out about good teaching. "I think the conversation has really changed," she says. "People are still lecturing, mostly, but they are aware of the movement toward active learning and are talking about it."
Expansion Extends Eligible Faculty
After running the Summer Institute in Wisconsin for seven years, it seemed clear that they were ready to take the next step, Wood says. "It seemed like the natural next step to set up regional institutes," he explains. "Hopefully it will help build a larger community of people who believe in what we are doing."
Just like the Madison Summer Institute, the regional Summer Institutes will be organized by long-time attendees and taught by many of the same instructors to keep the experience as consistent as possible.
In addition to the expansion itself, HHMI's funding will pay for an intensive assessment of the program, including hiring two professional evaluators. Previous studies have shown that the Summer Institute's training has an impact on the faculty who attend, but Handelsman and Wood want
|Contact: Andrea Widener|
Howard Hughes Medical Institute