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Salem State Professor Receives NSF Grant

Interview with the Center for Research and Creative Activities

Professor Tess Killpack of the Salem State University biology department is part of a team that received a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant as part of the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program. The award is a three-year grant for a project titled “Deep Teaching Residency.” Killpack is a Co-PI with two other collaborators on the project: Bryan Dewsbury (Florida International University) and Carolyn Sandoval (University of California San Diego).

The program is a faculty development residency, the impetus of which came from the idea of increasing the level of inclusivity training faculty are provided. Instead of just a single workshop or training, this program aims to immerse the faculty in a year-long “residency” in which faculty attend workshops, participate in monthly check-ins with other applicants, and have a virtual learning component with readings/podcasts/etc. in order to transform one of the courses they teach to be more inclusive.

The program is based on a conceptual model called “deep teaching” that Professor Dewsbury describes in his paper “Deep teaching in a college STEM classroom,” which he published in 2019. Dewsbury explains that deep teaching “involves faculty engagement in a constant, critical evaluation of how instructor self-awareness, students’ personal histories, and broad social structures impact the development of an equitable pedagogy” (Dewsbury, 2019).

The program seeks to change faculty mindsets through personal reflection and, in doing so, change their relationships with students, their pedagogical practices and philosophy. Killpack says, “faculty need to understand their own identities and privileges in order to navigate points of blindness they might have [in regards to their teaching].” 

The team ran an initial pilot program in January of 2020 to great success. In fact, the initial cohort of faculty still meet regularly over zoom to check in and update the group about the progress they’ve made and new initiatives they are hoping to incorporate into their classes and on their campuses.

Now, with the NSF grant, Killpack and her team will spend 2021 planning and preparing for the first cohort to begin the program officially in summer of 2022. The selection process for the residency will be application-based and will include faculty from all across the nation. With the grant award, the team has enough funding to have a second cycle of applicants begin the residency in summer 2023.

Congratulations Professor Killpack on this prestigious award and exciting and innovative new project!

Learn more about the Center for Research and Creative Activities. All Salem State University students, faculty, and staff are invited to email their research to be featured by the CRCA:

Evea Raye
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