After observing the successful model of the STEM Education Research Group (STEM ERG), Steve Taff (Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy) approached Gina Frey (co-Director, CIRCLE; Florence Moog Professor of STEM Education) in May 2016 to start a cross-disciplinary, scholarly teaching forum for faculty from the Danforth and Medical campuses.
The Cross-Campus Education Research Group (C2 ERG), which includes faculty from Arts & Sciences, the School of Medicine, the Brown School, the McKelvey School of Engineering, and the School of Law, began meeting monthly in Fall 2016. The Program of Occupational Therapy provides funding and CIRCLE provides logistical support for the group to meet during the academic year.
The group discusses various educational strategies and innovations and explores how these could be studied in multidisciplinary contexts to determine factors that positively impact student engagement, motivation, and learning.
Initially, the group’s “Bring Your Own Idea” structure is working toward establishing a standing interdisciplinary group for educational research and dissemination. This consortium spans the schools and provides multiple opportunities for members to partner in research or in Scholarship of Teaching and Learning projects of various scopes.
The meetings vary in content, but typically one member takes the lead and presents a research project that they are planning or a project that is in process. The group brainstorms ideas to enhance the project, asks critical questions, and provides input on possible next steps. Future meetings will include discussion of journal articles or books that are relevant for advancing teaching and learning.
Steve Taff observes that a common “a-ha” moment for participants is “when we realize that many of us are asking the same (or similar) questions but in different programs, on different campuses, and in different disciplines.” He notes that he has also “learned more about educational-research design and how to better frame the questions I’m asking, questions that better yield a potential research project or classroom innovation.”