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Transforming Institutions: Undergraduate Education for the 21st Century

The Discovery Learning Research Center (DLRC) at Purdue Universtiy is pleased to announce the publication of Transforming Institutions: Undergraduate STEM Education for the 21st Century, edited by Gabriela C. Weaver, Wilella D. Burgess, Amy L. Childress, and Linda Slakey and published by Purdue University Press.

Higher education is coming under increasing scrutiny, both publically and within academia, with respect to its ability to appropriately prepare students for the careers that will make them competitive in the 21st-century workplace. At the same time, there is a growing awareness that many global issues will require creative and critical thinking deeply rooted in the technical STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines. However, the existing and ingrained structures of higher education, particularly in the STEM fields, are not set up to provide students with extensive skill development in communication, teamwork, and divergent thinking, which is needed for success in the knowledge economy.

The Discovery Learning Research Center convened international conferences in 2011 and 2014 to bring together university leaders, educational policymakers and researchers, and funding agency representatives to discuss the issue of institutional transformation in higher education, particularly in the STEM disciplines. Central to the issue of institutional transformation is the ability to provide new forms of instruction so that students can gain the variety of skills and depth of knowledge they will need. However, radically altering approaches to instruction sets in motion a domino effect that touches on learning space design, instructional technology, faculty training and reward structures, course scheduling, and funding models. In order for one piece to move, there must be coordinated movement in the others, all of which are part of an entrenched and interconnected system.

Transforming Institutions brings together chapters from the scholars and leaders who were part of the 2011 and 2014 conferences. and builds on the DLRC’s strong national reputation at the forefront of transformative undergraduate education research. The book provides an overview of the context and challenges in STEM higher education, contributed chapters describing programs and research in this area, and a reflection and summary of the lessons from the many authors’ viewpoints, leading to suggested next steps in the path toward transformation.

Sally Mason, president emerita of the University of Iowa, said of Transforming Institutions: “This is the first book that both states the case for renewed emphasis on STEM education and provides compelling examples of best practices, what works well, and innovative classroom/laboratory experiments that have had positive impact on learners at all types of institutions.”

Senior Advisor for Education and Communication at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Jay B. Labov said: “A compilation of thinking by many of the STEM’s education system’s leading experts, the editors bring together in one volume a serious, in-depth discussion of the problems and offer insights in ways to address them at multiple levels of the system. In addition to providing much of the evidence for the efficacy of this approach, this compendium also provides a rich array of ‘on-the-ground’ examples of how change is occurring at many types of institutions. I predict that it will be an important ‘go-to’ resource for many years.”

Available from Amazon and Purdue University Press.




Reference Information

  • Author(s)


  • Editor

    Gabriela C. Weaver,Wilella D. Burgess, Amy L. Childress, Linda Slakey

  • Publisher

    Purdue University Press

  • Title

    Transforming Institutions: Undergraduate STEM Educaton for the 21st Century

  • Year