The National Institute on Scientific Teaching (NIST) is a non-profit organization devoted to empowering and inspiring the transformation of STEM education through evidence-based teaching practices. The Institute is dedicated to STEM education reform by improving science literacy and increasing diversity in universities across the United States.
We draw scientific teaching principles from models supported by peer-reviewed research and support participants to directly apply these principles in their classrooms and in their course development. The curriculum includes core elements of active learning strategies, effective assessment development, and inclusive teaching practices. Institute alumni continue to actively transform STEM education on their home campuses, contribute to national STEM education initiatives, and disseminate their evidence-based teaching efforts and research through peer-reviewed publications.
Over 350 colleges and universities from across the United States and abroad, have sent over 2,000 faculty and future faculty to a total of 56 Institutes. The majority of surveyed program alumni report that the Institute training helped them increase their use of scientific teaching practices. Data from over 70 faculty and 5,000 students indicate increased student engagement and intent to persist in science when faculty trained in scientific teaching implement at high levels. NIST/Summer Institutes programs are often referenced in the literature as making a significant impact on STEM education in the United States.
Founded by Professors Jo Handelsman and Bill Wood in 2004, the institute was fueled in part by the 2003 National Research Council report, Bio2010: Tranforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. This report promoted faculty development as a crucial component of improving undergraduate education, recommending that universities provide faculty with opportunities to refine classroom techniques and better integrate math and physical sciences concepts into biology instruction. The “Summer Institute” began as an intensive series of multi-day workshops at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where it was held for eight years. The single institute expanded to multiple regional institutes across the country, with support from the National Science Foundation, National Academy of Sciences, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Helmsley Charitable Trust. The Mobile Summer Institutes began in 2014, designed to draw participants from the same department or institution. In addition to evidence-based teaching workshops, the Mobile Summer Institutes provide instruction in peer evaluation to drive long-term reflective teaching as well as facilitated strategic planning to develop a shared vision between administrators and mobile Summer Institute participants. In 2020, NIST became an independent non-profit organization.