The Transforming Education, Supporting Teaching and Learning Excellence (TRESTLE) is a 7-institution NSF-funded project to support improvements in undergraduate STEM education through (1) supporting course design projects, (2) enhancing educational expertise in departments, and (3) building communities within and across campuses to enhance the impact of local experts.  

CU TRESTLE Activities:

  1. TRESTLE Awards:
    • TRESTLE Course Transformation Awards ($10,000).
    • TRESTLE Scholar Program:  One semester guided experience to incorporate evidence based practices.
    • TRESTLE mini seed grants: Grants up to $1000 to support course transformation work.
  2. ShInDiG (Shared Innovations Discussion Group):  Informal discussion group to share information and feedback on effective teaching strategies.  Aimed at practitioners, not researchers.
  3. Educational advisors program:  As-needed, a la carte consultations 
  4. National TRESTLE meeting (held at CU Boulder, October 20-22, 2016)
  5. National CU TRESTLE meeting (for CU Boulder TRESTLE participants only, by invitation, January 23, 2017)

About our project

TRESTLE is a 7-institution, NSF-funded project to improve undergraduate STEM education.  Our objective is to test a model of educational transformation which builds on the Science Education Initiative (at CU and UBC).  Our model is derived from research on institutional change and quality improvement, and builds on a course transformation initiative (the Science Education Initiative, or SEI) that has been successful at two of the partner institutions. The core of the approach involves supporting "embedded expertise" within departments, centered on course transformation, to catalyze changes in teaching practices and culture. In this model, STEM education “embedded experts” collaborate with department faculty to guide and support the implementation of discipline-based educational practices in STEM courses.

The SEI was very resource intensive, using many dedicated postdoctoral scholars as the primary change agents. In the current project we test an extension of this model that involves using a smaller infusion of resources, by including multiple types of change agents (postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and groups of faculty), and developing communities of scholars within and across departments, and across institutions. Such a model has already been pilot tested with preliminary evidence of success at the University of Kansas (KU).

In the TRESTLE project, a network of seven research universities, led by KU, is implementing and evaluating adaptations of this model on their own campuses. The network itself serves two general functions: 1) to build a community for intellectual exchange and collaboration on evidence-based teaching as a key component of the intervention itself, and 2) to permit a test of whether the intervention model can be localized and implemented in different institutional cultures to propagate widespread STEM reform.

The results can be used by other institutions seeking to make similar changes, in order to improve learning and educational outcomes for both STEM students and non-STEM students. Our findings will provide a wealth of new data to further our understanding of how to create scalable change on an institutional level, deepening the return on investment in STEM education reform.

More about TRESTLE


TRESTLE is a project of the Center for STEM Learning (CSL), and was developed as part of a multi-institution consortium (the Bay View Alliance) interested in improving teaching and learning at their respective campuses, with the Science Education Initiative as one strong model for how this might be accomplished. TRESTLE is generously funded through the National Science Foundation (DUE 1525331).

University of Colorado PI: 

  • Stephanie Chasteen (Center for STEM Learning and Science Education Initiative)

Cross-institutional Network

  • Project lead: Andrea Greenhoot (University of Kansas)
  • Other project partners:  Mark Mort (KU), Caroline Bennett (KU), George Rehrey (IU-Bloomington), Marco Molinari (UC Davis), Chris Pagliarulo (UC Davis), JoAnn Browning (UT San Antonio), Warren Code (UBC), Gulnur Biriol (UBC), Brian Frank (Queens U.)

University of Colorado Advisory Board:

  • Noah Finkelstein (Physics), Anne-Barrie Hunter (Center for STEM Learning), Amy Palmer (Chemistry), Nichole Barger (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology), Valerie Otero (School of Education)