The National Science Foundation has funded a new mentoring initiative jointly organized by the ASCB, Genetics Society of America (GSA), and American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB). The Promoting Active Learning & Mentoring (PALM) Network was established to spark sustained biology education reform at diverse institutions through one-on-one long- term mentorships for faculty new to approaches based on Vision and Change recommendations.

palm-logoPALM provides faculty and postdoctoral fellows with resources that allow them to gain hands-on experience and long-term mentorship support to bring evidence-based, active learning strategies into their own classrooms. The longer term goal is to lead enduring change that will positively influence the teaching culture at each PALM Fellow’s institution.

PALM offers up to $2,000 per Fellow; a $500 mentor stipend; and up to $1,000 for meeting travel (for each Fellow and mentor). The 2016 application deadlines are January 15 and June 15. The application site, at www.ascb.org/PALM, will open on January 1, 2016; more details are available on the site now.

PALM Fellows will:

  • Identify and secure partnership with experienced mentors who have already reformed their classrooms. A successful application will define how Fellows will visit the mentor’s site to observe and participate in teaching redesigned classes. This will allow Fellows to experience first-hand and begin to put into practice the full scope of pedagogical and cultural shifts needed to achieve effective change.
  • Submit a complete proposal.
  • Schedule dates to complete the identified work within 6 months of receiving the award notification.
  • Develop an active learning based module for one of their classes with guidance from their mentors, and implement it, thus demonstrating how they have incorporated active learning approaches.
  • Submit videos of their teaching before and after their mentoring experience for analysis. n Consider best options and timing for disseminating their materials to others in their institutions and in the greater scientific community, including publication (e.g., CourseSource).
  • Report on their activities to colleagues at the year-end gathering of the PALM Network, as well as at a national, regional, or sectional meeting of their respective scientific societies.
  • Participate in surveys over several years so the PALM Network can assess the extent and persistence of change in classroom practice.

Applicants must:

  • Be or become members of organizations that belong to the PALM Network.
  • Demonstrate an abiding/sustainable interest in undergraduate biology education.
  • Establish a mentor relationship before formally applying.
  • Mentors must be skilled in active learning strategies and evidence-based teaching that align with Vision and Change principles. See http://www.visionandchange.org.
  • Mentors must belong to (or join) one of the PALM Network organizations.
  • Assistance with mentor matching is available (PALM Steering Committee can make recommendations based on geography and specific teaching interests).
  • Explain alternatives if they have no immediate access to their own teaching setting.

Networking Works

The PALM Network is designed to combine the shared educational interests of scientific organizations working for Vision and Change. PALM founders will expand the network by bringing in other organizations seeking collaborations based on reform efforts as they work hard to promote the principles of Vision and Change. The PALM Network Steering Committee contains members representing three professional societies, minority-serving institutions, and community colleges; this is an intentional combination aimed at ensuring diversity in program management and participation.

The PALM Steering Committee’s links to minority- and tribal-serving institutions and community colleges will support this grant’s goals for broadening participation in active learning reform. These organizations educate over half the underrepresented minorities in the United States, so PALM is primed to bring Vision and Change reforms to populations of faculty and students who have not factored prominently into past pedagogical reform plans.

Linking Synergizes

The PALM Network will incorporate and complement existing programs offered by Network societies. For example, the ASCB Mentoring in Active Learning and Teaching (MALT) program will be folded into the PALM Network. Another program aligned with the Network is the ASPB Master Educator Program, which supports ASPB members pursuing specific professional development training and related mentoring to create new undergraduate biology teaching materials.

Questions? Please email grant PI Sue Wick at swick@umn.edu.

PALM is funded by National Science Foundation Research Coordination Network in Undergraduate Biology Education grant #1539870.

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The American Society for Cell Biology is a professional society that was founded in 1960. Its mission statement says: ASCB is an inclusive community of biologists studying the cell, the fundamental unit of life.


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