College of Science

STEM faculty training network welcomes 25 new members

The Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) Network, which includes The University of Texas at Arlington, recently completed its third expansion, welcoming 25 new members to bring the network to 46 research universities across the United States and Canada.

The CIRTL Network is a group of doctoral-granting universities united in the effort to develop a national STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) faculty committed to implementing and advancing effective teaching practices for diverse student audiences as part of successful professional careers. The goal of CIRTL is to improve the STEM learning of all students at every college and university, and thereby to increase the diversity in STEM fields and the STEM literacy of the nation.

With the latest expansion, CIRTL members now produce one-third of U.S. doctoral degrees in STEM fields. The network members commit to developing local learning communities that promote proven teaching and mentoring techniques for their STEM graduate students.

“As the CIRTL Network expands, we at UTA look forward to working with our new partners on the important task of preparing a highly skilled and diverse next generation of faculty for American higher education,” said James Grover, College of Science associate dean for research and graduate studies and professor of biology. Grover serves as project director of CIRTL UTA operations.

The CIRTL Network includes many of the leading public and private research institutions in the nation. Within the state of Texas, UTA, Texas A&M University and the University of Houston were members prior to the latest expansion, with Rice University and UT El Paso joining in the latest expansion.

On June 2-3, representatives from all 46 CIRTL universities will come together for a national meeting at the University of Wisconsin?Madison.

The CIRTL Network was founded in 2003, and UTA joined in 2012 when the network expanded from six to over 20 members.

“UTA’s joining this group at that time was a mark of our emergence as a major research institution, training substantial numbers of doctoral students who will join the future faculty of American higher education,” Grover said.

UTA has a vigorous CIRTL program that prepares doctoral students for academic careers through a variety of workshops and courses, some of which are provided locally and others of which are available online from the national network. UTA students have opportunities to do mentored teaching with experienced faculty members, and conduct “teaching-as-research” projects where they test and implement improvements to teaching and learning.

In April 2015, UTA played a major role in the national network by
James Grover, associate dean of science and CIRTL UTA project director.
programming of the 2016 CIRTL National Forum, held in College Station. Grover served as program chair, with colleagues from Texas A&M University, the University of Houston, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Vanderbilt University, and Boston University. The theme of the event was “Preparing the Future STEM Faculty for the Rapidly Changing Landscape of Higher Education.” The keynote speaker was Anya Kamenetz, NPR education journalist. Other thought leaders in higher education giving keynote addresses included Randy Bass, Jennifer Glass, George Siemens, Mary Deane Sorcinelli, Ann Austin, and Suzanne Ortega.

CIRTL UTA activities are supported by the Office of Graduate Studies, the Provost’s Office, the Colleges of Education, Engineering, and Science, and the LINK Research Lab. Lisa Berry, director of the LINK Lab, is CIRTL UTA’s administrative co-leader.

Since its creation, the CIRTL Network has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation Foundation. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has been the lead institution for the grants.

Posted April 12, 2016