Newswise — The University of Illinois at Chicago has been named one of six new members of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning, or CIRTL, an academic network of top research universities devoted to developing and expanding proven STEM teaching practices to educate diverse populations of students.

Members of the network, which includes 43 institutions in the U.S and Canada, are commissioned to develop learning cohorts for graduate students in science, technology, engineering, math and social sciences that are built around the center’s core ideas of teaching-as-research, learning communities and learning-through-diversity.

One of the goals of CIRTL is to improve the STEM learning of all students at every college and university, and thereby to increase the diversity in STEM fields and the STEM literacy of the nation. UIC — which is among the top 20 ethnically diverse national universities according to U.S. News & World Report and is federally designated as a Minority-Serving Institution, American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution, and Hispanic-Serving Institution — serves as a fitting institution to advance the network’s teaching and learning objectives.   

“We are excited about developing our CIRTL learning community within which graduate teaching assistants can learn and advance effective, evidence-based instructional strategies that meet the needs of our diverse undergraduate student population,” said Karen Colley, dean of the UIC Graduate College and CIRTL institutional leader.

UIC’s membership in the network will give its STEM graduate students access to professional development opportunities, program evaluation guides, online courses, workshops and events.

“We also anticipate leveraging CIRTL resources to propel the professional development of our diverse graduate students and postdocs in ways that prepare them for successful entry into the workforce,” said Erin Sanders O’Leary, incoming executive director of the UIC Center for Teaching Excellence and CIRTL administrative co-leader.

The five other new CIRTL members include University of Arizona, University of Florida, University of Houston, University of Idaho, and Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada.

“Our newest member universities will bring an even greater diversity in the expertise that the network is giving our future faculty,” said Robert Mathieu, professor of astronomy at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and director of CIRTL. “Several of our new partner institutions emphasize teaching indigenous students, while others contribute valuable experience serving students in urban multicultural environments.”

CIRTL is operated within the Wisconsin Center for Education Research in University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Education.