About the Summer Institutes


The Summer Institutes on Scientific Teaching hopes to empower and inspire college and university instructors to transform STEM education through evidence-based teaching practices. The Summer Institutes are dedicated to STEM education reform by improving science literacy and increasing diversity in the academia in universities across the United States.

The Summer Institutes draw scientific teaching principles from models supported by peer-reviewed research. We support participants to directly apply these principles in their classroom and their development of their teaching materials. The curriculum of the Summer Institutes includes core elements of active learning strategies, effective assessment development, and inclusive teaching practices. Summer Institutes alumni are actively transforming STEM education on their home campuses, contributing to national STEM education initiatives, and disseminating their evidence-based teaching efforts and research through peer reviewed publications.


Founded by Professor Jo Handelsman in 2004 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Summer Institutes have expanded and regionalized with the support of the National Science Foundation, National Academy of Sciences, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Helmsley Charitable Trust. The institutes emerged from the 2003 National Research Council report, Bio2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. The report concludes that faculty development is a crucial component of improving undergraduate education. It recommends that universities provide faculty with opportunities to refine classroom techniques and better integrate math and physical sciences concepts into biology instruction.


The Summer Institutes are intensive multi-day workshops held throughout the United States that introduce STEM educators to the principles of evidence-based teaching. Participants include college and university faculty and future faculty in STEM fields from both research- and teaching-intensive institutions. Each year, approximately 200 participants attend one of up to six “regional” Summer Institutes, which draw faculty teams from institutions in a proximal geographic region.


We also lead “mobile” Summer Institutes, which 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.


Both regional and mobile Summer Institutes participants have opportunities to reconvene at in-person or virtual follow-up meetings. At these meetings, participants report on progress and challenges, reconnect with alumni and program leaders, and learn about new evaluation research related to Summer Institutes initiatives.


Education research, active learning, effective assessment, and inclusive teaching are all woven into the Summer Institutes program. Activities include reflective writing, planning, reading, researching, discussing teaching methods and philosophy, interactive presentations, and developing teaching materials (i.e., “teachable tidbits”). By the end of the week, participants will have observed, evaluated, and collected a portfolio of innovative teaching approaches, instructional materials and practical strategies for enhancing student learning that can be adapted to their own teaching environments. Read more about what you can expect at a Summer Institute here .


Over 350 colleges and universities from across the United States have sent over 2,000 faculty and future faculty to a total of 56 Summer Institutes. The majority of surveyed program alumni report that the Summer Institutes training has increased their use of scientific teaching practices and these teaching strategies persist in the years following their training. 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. The Summer Institutes program is often referenced in the literature as making a significant impact on STEM education in the United States.


"It was a wonderful experience, and I hope that more of my colleagues attend next year, so that an entire army of faculty are equipped with the latest weapons to make STEM education meaningful and a joy for all students."


"The Institute was an amazing experience and I would highly recommend to other colleagues. It was one of the best teaching experiences I have had in my career."


"It was great to observe how active learning in groups led to participation by all participants which allowed everyone to see the strengths of the model."


"For me the sessions have been extremely valuable because we have been actually practicing instead of just hearing about the topics in theory."

"This was a very valuable professional development opportunity for me. I feel better equipped with arguments for helping drive change in undergraduate education."


"I learned SO much, made some valuable professional connections, and got practice developing an active learning activity that was peer evaluated. The material was presented in a way that I felt like I could immediately apply/implement things from each session immediately in my classroom."


Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for updates. Read more about what to expect at a Summer Institute.


Copyright © 2020. National Institute on Scientific Teaching.
All rights reserved. 

Contact us at nationalinstituteonST@gmail.com