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Addressing Challenges in Teaching (ACT)
July 2024

This summer, the National Institute on Scientific Teaching will host Addressing Challenges in Teaching (ACT), the fourth annual online, flexible, small group learning event formerly known as Solve My Problem (SMP). Our goal is to work as a community to address common challenges in undergraduate education. We welcome educators at all stages of their academic career to join us for this opportunity to explore, reflect upon, learn, and deepen our teaching practices.


Building on the success of the three prior SMP/ACT events (reported here), ACT enables small groups to come together to strategize the work they would like to do that is responsive to their current needs and to gain more familiarity with Scientific Teaching, which empowers the transformation of STEM education through evidence-based teaching practices. 


An opening 120 minute workshop will be held on July 1st at 9am HI/ 11am AK/ 12pm P/ 1pm M / 2pm C / 3pm E to provide a shared grounding the Scientific Teaching, serving as an introduction for those newer to the framework and a refresher for those more familiar with it. Based on their interest in teaching challenge topics, participants will be divided into small groups that will meet regularly online 5-6 times between July 8th and 25th to explore a relevant teaching challenge that is aligned to one of the three pillars of the Scientific Teaching Framework (Active Learning, Inclusivity, Assessment). Groups will be self-directed with meeting times to be decided and scheduled by the participants during the three-week session, and will have an experienced facilitator to help as needed. ACT will conclude on July 25th with a wrap-up workshop where participants will share strategies and materials that they developed.


Topics: The NIST community has explored a variety of topical teaching challenges that support exploration of each of the three Scientific Teaching pillars, including group work, active learning, grading practices, and the emotional and social support of students.


Click here for 2024 topic descriptions (pdf)


When you register for ACT, you will be asked to indicate the teaching challenge(s) you would most like to explore. Everyone is welcome and our goal will be to match you with other group members with similar interests and with a facilitator who can help guide you in building a product that supports your continued professional learning. Your group will discuss and decide how you will work together within a structured timeline template.   

Registration Deadline: Friday June 14, 2024 

Registration Fee: A $30 non-refundable fee that supports the participation of the facilitators will be collected when registering.


Small Group Work (July 8-July 25, 2024)


Small groups of five or six members will meet online 5-6 times over 3 weeks on a self-directed schedule. Groups will collaboratively refine the broad initial topic to focus on specific challenges of most interest to them and develop a product that they can share which furthers their own development with Scientific Teaching. For example, groups newer to their topic may explore and build a toolkit that links to a variety of tested ways to begin incorporation into their practice. Other groups who are well versed in their topic might refresh their practice by sharing what has or has not worked and think about a particular issue with a larger community, proposing new solutions. Ideally, each person will also explore how they can benefit and develop as a member of the NIST community. 


Each group will be assigned a facilitator, who will ensure productive conversations and progress within the group, be available to liaise with ACT organizers, share requests for support, and answer questions about ACT events and meetings. Groups will complete a weekly check-in form so that coordinators and organizers can help with any challenges that arise.


Groups will schedule their initial meeting during the opening workshop. This first meeting will focus on grounding the chosen topic in the pillars of Scientific Teaching, followed by additional meetings where participants will share relevant examples from the literature, discuss personal experiences and strategies, and bring all of this information together to think about possible solutions and strategies for implementing these in individual teaching practice.

ACT Summer 2024 Schedule:

  • Opening Workshop: Monday, July 1st, 2024. 9am HI/ 11am AK/ 12pm P/ 1pm M / 2pm C / 3pm E (120 minutes) Introduce the goals for the summer program.


  • Group Meetings (between July 8-July 25) with suggested focus areas for each meeting: 

  • Meeting 1: 

    • Scientific Teaching framework: Active Learning, Assessment, Inclusion

    • Group discussion to identify and refine the broad topic to a more specific interest identified by group and grounding within the selected pillar of Scientific Teaching framework. Take the broad topic and identify and refine the approach to addressing that challenge. 

    • Review structured group organizing template

  • Meeting 2: 

    • Share examples, ideas from literature

    • Identify potential product to be developed and plan group roles 

  • Meeting 3:  

    • Share personal experiences and strategies for peer feedback

    • Collaborate on product development 

    • Begin to align to framework

  • Meeting 4: 

    • Continue alignment activities

    • Bring together a cohesive strategy for strategies and solutions 

  • Meetings 5-6: 

    • Finalize product development to share what your group identified as a relevant, cohesive strategy that is aligned to the Scientific Teaching framework. 

    • Share product with other ACT groups in shared drive

    • Identify post-ACT goals for continued professional learning


  • Wrap-up Session: Thursday July 25: 9am HI/ 11am AK/ 12pm P/ 1pm M / 2pm C / 3pm E (90 minutes). Each group will share the materials that they developed and collaborate with other participants to share new ideas, ask questions and explore possible next steps.

​Questions? Contact us at: and include ACT in the subject line. 


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