The Challenges of Spreading and Sustaining Research-Based Instruction in Undergraduate STEM

Seminar by Dr. Charles Henderson
Western Michigan University

Charles Henderson, PhD, is an Associate Professor at Western Michigan University (WMU), with a joint appointment between the Physics Department and the WMU Mallinson Institute for Science Education. Much of his research activity is focused on understanding and improving the slow incorporation of research-based instructional reforms into college-level STEM courses. Research projects have attacked this problem from several directions: in-depth studies of faculty attempting to change their instruction, surveys and interviews with faculty related to their interaction with research-based instructional strategies, and an interdisciplinary literature review of change strategies in higher education.

Dr. Henderson's work has been supported by several National Science Foundation grants and has resulted in a number of publications (see for details). In spring 2010, Henderson was a Fulbright Scholar with the Finnish Institute for Educational Research at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. He is currently the Editor of the journal Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research and a member of the National Research Council Committee on Undergraduate Physics Education Research and Implementation.

Day: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 

Time: 3:00-4:30
Room: Bioscience Research Building, Room 1103.


There have been many calls for the reform of introductory Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses. These calls have resulted in a cadre of researchers who study the teaching and learning of undergraduate STEM and have developed instructional methods that improve student learning. There currently exists a substantial gap between research-based knowledge of ‘best practice' instructional methods and the teaching practices of typical STEM faculty. This talk will connect data about the spread of research-based instructional strategies in college-level STEM to ideas from the change literature. Recommendations will be made for how to decrease the knowledge-practice gap.