Center for Teaching and Learning

Advances in Higher Education Research Seminar

This seminar series highlights original research in college-level learning and instruction. Each seminar is multidisciplinary in scope and addresses the broad themes of our work as instructors, including the cognitive processes by which students learn, and the classroom context in which they do so.

All seminars are free and open to the public. Presentations will be followed by a Q&A session and opportunities for discussion.

Alma Mat(t)ers: Leveraging Current Undergraduate Experiences to Change the Future of Higher Education

Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2:30-3:20 p.m., on Zoom

Dan Grunspan, assistant professor, Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph

Dr. Dan Grunspan

Dan Grunspan, assistant professor, Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph

Reforming university instruction to align with evidence-based practices is a critical, time-sensitive goal across science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Unfortunately, achieving scalable change has proven difficult. In this seminar, Professor Dan Grunspan will describe a cultural evolutionary model for pedagogical change that stresses how individuals and their ideas flow between universities. This flow determines the trajectory and frequency with which pedagogical practices are used by faculty. Using a novel dataset of more than 7000 physics faculty from nearly 600 institutions—including where they received their undergraduate degree—Dr. Grunspan will show that the flow of individuals between institutions is currently imbalanced: only about 20% of all universities train 70% of physics faculty. Although this imbalance may be historically responsible for a stasis of teacher-centered pedagogies, it can also create opportunities for large-scale pedagogical reform.

Dan Grunspan is an assistant professor in Integrative Biology at the University of Guelph. As a discipline-based education researcher, he applies tools and perspectives from social network analysis to understand different aspects of postsecondary education, including undergraduate experiences and faculty teaching decisions. Prior to joining the University of Guelph, he was a post-doctoral scholar in the Center for Evolution and Medicine at Arizona State University. He earned his Ph.D. in Biocultural Anthropology from the University of Washington and a BS from Texas A&M University.

Register for the Dec. 7 Seminar

Questions about the series?