The participants of the TRESTLE initiative gathered on September 29 at IU Bloomington to exchange strategies, stories of successes and lessons learned, and foster a close community dedicated to improving student learning and engagement through course transformation projects.
TRESTLE, an acronym for Transforming Education, Stimulating Teaching and Learning Excellence, is a multi-institutional, five-year National Science Foundation-funded project working to implement and evaluate a model to promote improved STEM education at research universities. Affiliated with the Bay View Alliance, its network includes the University of Kansas, Indiana University, Queen’s University at Kingston, University of British Columbia, University of California-Davis, University of Colorado-Boulder and University of Texas at San Antonio.
The TRESTLE network’s goal is to promote course transformations that are evidence-based and learner-centered. Maintaining a department-level focus within each participating institution, the project engages faculty who are teaching STEM courses as they use existing research about student learning to redesign class activities and generate evidence within their own classrooms about what works the best.
“Our goal is to try to shift the culture of teaching,” said project lead Dea Follmer Greenroot of University of Kansas. She hoped this annual event would help “build greater leadership around these initiatives” within departments and schools.
“That is what it is going to take: To build distributed leadership across university campuses,” Follmer Greenroot said of the transformation effort.
At IU Bloomington, the TRESTLE focus is on computer science courses taught at the School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering. Now in its second year, the faculty cohort includes Mehmet Dalkilic, Bryce Himbaugh, Apu Kapadia, Ryan Henry, Jeremy Siek
Sam Tobin-Hochstadt, and Yuzhen Ye. As part of the project all of them participated in the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning’s Course Development Institute and Transformative Learning Collegium. Up to twelve computer science courses are slated for transformation by the end of the project.
IU Bloomington has a long history of leadership the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, which has been an invaluable benefit to the TRESTLE network. George Rehrey and Joan Middendorf have been leading the TRESTLE initiative here on the Bloomington campus.
“Indiana University is nationally recognized for its support of faculty who conduct research about teaching and learning while adding to our collective knowledge about student success in post-secondary education,” said Rehrey. “Joining this project was a natural next step in continuing along that path in a focused way.”
Faculty working on course transformations, staff and administrators who work on teaching and learning initiatives and post-doctorate teaching fellows who collaborate with faculty gathered at the 2017 annual meeting to take a deep dive into case studies, share lessons learned through poster sessions and identify lessons and themes across the project.
The TRESTLE project is more than a year and a half into the course intervention process on participating campuses. Campuses will spend a total of three years in active intervention with two years for follow-up and evaluation. For more information about TRESTLE, visit http://trestlenetwork.org/