College Level One (CL-1) - Our Mission

Our Mission

WHO WE ARE: The NISE College Level One Team, based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a nationwide community of post-secondary science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) faculty, education researchers, faculty developers, and students.

WHAT WE'RE DOING: Our mission is:

    To improve students' learning experiences and critical thinking skills by fostering innovation in introductory STEM education at the college level.

    To engage and retain a growing and diverse student population in the study of science, mathematics, and engineering by eliminating cultural and gender barriers.

    To increase college students' STEM literacy and effectively prepare students majoring in STEM disciplines for their future careers.

WHY WE'RE DOING IT: Introductory college science and mathematics courses serve as curriculum "pressure points" that can strongly influence student career choices and science literacy. Introductory STEM courses should promote cultural and gender diversity in the science and mathematics student population. In fulfilling our mission, the College Level One Team fosters supportive college STEM learning environments in which all students contribute. Within these cooperative learning environments, students will model good practices, learn what scientists and engineers do, and develop a lifelong appreciation for science and mathematics.

HOW WE'RE DOING IT: We are sponsoring year-long College Level One Institutes, which bring together nationally recognized post-secondary STEM faculty and education researchers to synthesize knowledge in critical areas of undergraduate STEM education. This knowledge is then disseminated in forms designed for STEM faculty seeking to improve their students' learning.

The focus of our first year was Collaborative Learning. We have created state-of-the-art products to help STEM faculty implement effective cooperative learning experiences into introductory college STEM courses. These products include:

  • A Meta-analysis that integrates research on undergraduate STEM education since 1980 and demonstrates the effectiveness of cooperative learning.

  • A comprehensive Annotated Bibliography on cooperative learning in college STEM courses²an invaluable resource for implementing cooperative learning methods and conducting research in this growing field.

  • A Collaborative Learning web site. Visitors to our web site will discover practical collaborative learning techniques that faculty can use to improve their students' critical thinking skills and learning experiences. The CL web site also contains innovative teaching success stories, faculty and student experiences, research on the effectiveness of collaborative learning, and extensive links to additional information.

During our second Institute, we focused on assessing students' learning in the classroom. The primary product of this Institute was the creation of the Field-tested Learning Assessment Guide (FLAG) web site. This web site was designed by and for college and university instructors in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Its purpose is to offer a readily accessible, up-to-date resource of classroom-tested assessment tools for instructors who have an interest in sharing and implementing new approaches to evaluating student learning, attitudes and performance. Each of the techniques and tools in this guide has been developed, tested and refined in real classrooms and teaching laboratories at colleges and universities throughout the country, and each has been reviewed by experienced instructors in the appropriate discipline and an Editorial Board of recognized experts in testing and measurement.

Within this web site there is:

  • An assessment primer that provides an overview of classroom assessment from Why do Assessment to Assessment within the Context of Course Development.
  • A series of CATs (Classroom Assessment Techniques) written by practioniners for practioniners. The CATs are based on the book, Classroom Assessment Techniques, by Thomas Angelo and Patricia Cross.
  • A searchable database of classroom assessment tools, i.e., examples of the CATs.
WHAT'S NEXT: In August 1999, we began the 1999-2000 College Level One Institute on Learning Technology. The Institute on Learning Technology, is synthesizing key issues involved in effective use of computer-based technology as the central theme. The Institute on Learning Technology has taken on the challenge of providing college STEM instructors with better resources for answering questions related to why they should use learning technologies and how they should use them. We are taking a case-study approach to the problem by conducting nine in-depth studies of exemplary technology use in a variety of STEM disciplines and higher education environments. We also are develop a comprehensive taxonomy of learning technologies that will lay the analytic foundation for presentation of the case study analyses and inform future research about learning technology. The materials resulting from these studies will be incorporated into our web site. In addition, we will develop products explicitly designed for workshop use, to be piloted by Teaching and Learning with Technology Group (an affiliate of the AAHE) and distributed to other professional development organizations.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. RED-9452971. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.