Science Seminar Speaker: Dr. Marilyne Stains, Associate Professor of Chemistry, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Wednesday, November 7, 2018 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm


252 Erickson Hall

Title: Importance of characterizing STEM faculty members’ instructional mindsets and practices in an era of instructional transformation

Abstract: Local and national initiatives to improve the learning experiences of students enrolled in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses have been on-going for a couple of decades with a heightened momentum within the last ten years. However, recent large-scale studies have demonstrated that transmission of information is still the primary mode of instruction in STEM courses across the undergraduate curriculum. The limited impact of instructional change reform efforts can be partly explained by the one-sided focus of educational research on the development of evidence-based instructional practices and production of evidence demonstrating their impact on student learning. This has been done at the expense of understanding faculty members’ instructional practices and mindsets as well as their beliefs and knowledge about teaching and learning. Indeed, extensive research on instructional change within various fields has positioned instructors at the center of successful educational reforms.

Our research endeavors focus on addressing this gap. In this presentation, we will share the results of a qualitative study investigating instructional planning practices and mindsets using the four-step cycle for instructional planning embedded within the Scientific Teaching pedagogical framework. In particular, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 42 STEM faculty members from one doctorate-granting institution prior to and following video observations of discrete units of instruction. These interviews aimed to characterize how faculty members determine evidence for learning, plan learning experiences, and evaluate, revise, and reflect on a week’s worth of teaching. Some of the main findings include discovery that faculty members’ satisfaction with pedagogical practice is a multi-faceted entity that may not be accurately depicted with a single value. We also found that faculty members’ satisfaction levels were a poor predictor of intent and planning for future instructional change. Finally, our study raises questions about instructor understandings of the connections between engagement strategies and assessment methods. Implications for instructional change reforms will be discussed.

Bio: Marilyne Stains is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry for the Université des Sciences de Luminy in Marseilles, France; her Master in quantum chemistry from the Université Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France; her PhD in Chemistry from the University of Arizona.

She started her academic career at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2011 and was promoted in 2016 to associate professor.

Her research focuses on characterizing the extent, nature, and factors involved in the gap between instructional practices in science college classrooms and discipline-based education research. She is specifically interested in 1) developing new methods to characterize instructional practices in STEM college classrooms, 2) exploring how faculty and teaching assistants think about their teaching, 3) identifying individual, departmental, and institutional factors that influence instructors' instructional decisions, and 4) characterizing the impact of different types of pedagogical professional development programs.

• She is the 5th chemical education researcher in the country to receive a NSF CAREER award.
• She is a member of the Editorial board for CBE Life Science Education journal.
• She has been invited to serve as panelist and content expert on workshops and roundtables hosted by AAAS and the National Academies.
• She has brought to her institution over $4 million of federal funding as PI or Co-PI.
• She is an elected member of the Executive Committee for the American Chemical Society Division of Chemical Education.
• She has received institutional awards for her teaching and mentoring of postdoctoral scholars.