The impact from the 2011 Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education report led by the American Association for the Advancement of Science has rippled across the country, sparking curricular and institutional change. Part of this dissemination of ideas in and approaches to biology education took place thanks to the Partnership for Undergraduate Life Science Education (PULSE). This community of undergraduate life science instructors actively supports its members in efforts to bring about authentic, grassroots, departmental change at institutions of higher education.
Program officers from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute for General Medical Sciences initiated PULSE in 2012 to stimulate the implementation of the Vision and Change report. What started as a working group made up of 40 Vision and Change Leadership Fellows evolved into a non-profit organization that orchestrates regional meetings among members of PULSE, disseminates resources that support departmental change, and even offers PULSE Recognition—a program designed to acknowledge departments that have adopted all the tenets from Vision and Change: integrating core concepts and competencies through the curriculum, focusing on student-centered learning, promoting a campus-wide commitment to change, and engaging the biology community in the implementation of change.
PULSE has put together a set of rubrics and data that helps members assess the impact of their efforts and connect with one another. Members can network with one another at one of the six regional conferences to share their efforts via presentations, workshops, and peer collaborations. Included in membership is access to a set of resources for faculty wanting to bring change to their departments. Everything from lists of journals and books that cover life science education topics to a strategic implementation pathway exists for members’ perusal. For those specifically looking for aids with regard to active learning in the classroom, an entire digital toolkit is also made available.
Becoming a member of PULSE is easy and free. Connecting with other members is just as simple. All one has to do is navigate to the list of member profiles and send a direct message to a member either through the site or via their contact information. Finding faculty in similar departments at similar institutions may require a little searching, but a search bar will help with narrowing the results. For those coming from departments open to broad change, applying to the Ambassador Program could help kick-start the transformation. The Ambassador Program coordinates a two-day workshop at the requesting institution during which facilitators help the department create a vision for change and a personalized pathway toward implementation.
Those of us from the life science fields have likely witnessed the reforms brought about through discipline-based education research and the Vision and Change report. Converting research to practice may at times seem like an overwhelming task, but many in the PULSE community have been there and know how to offer the right kind of support. Check out their website at www.pulsecommunity.org.
REMY DOU taught high school life science for eight years before becoming an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow. He now works as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the STEM Transformation Institute at Florida International University. For column queries: firstname.lastname@example.org