About IDEAs Lab

Full-time and part-time faculty are encouraged to apply.

A virtual IDEAs Lab is NOT a series of passive Zoom webinars, but rather an intensive, interactive, and free-thinking experience that fosters innovation in solving complex, wicked problems in a collaborative environment. Participants will be challenged to work in groups of different sizes and compositions, supported by mentors and energized by “provocateurs.” 

IDEAs Labs have been widely adopted within many national funding agencies, including NSF, NIH and NASA to transform research paradigms and find solutions to intractable wicked problems, such as enhancing the processes of photosynthesis, understanding the origins of life, and broadening participation in STEM. 

The process brings together stakeholders with different expertise to form teams using deliberate Creative Problem Solving (CPS) methodology resulting in real-time peer review in developing transformative ideas, in this case for curricular small changes and assessment. The sessions and activities in an IDEAs Lab are designed to create conditions for the formation, refinement, and advancement of innovative ideas. The process requires participants to leave preconditions behind in a series of stages of an iterative process (with divergent and convergent thinking at each step) with rounds of development and refinement, including group work (with changing members and numbers allowing all participants to interact) as well as brainstorming/breakout sessions. Final groups of 2-3 (representing different campuses) will emerge to produce individual plans for “small change” interventions and assessment in their courses. In this way, we will generate 10-15 "small change" experiments for testing in 20-30 courses in Fall 2022.

“Based on our observations, the average IDEAs Lab participant arrives curious, has exhausting fun learning new things and meeting new people, and leaves the event completely inspired to pursue Ideas they couldn’t have come up with on their own.”

- KnowInnovation


Apply for IDEAs Lab

Our theme this year is “Small Changes. Big Rewards.” as we strive to move ideas to action for impact on student success. We are seeking tenure-track instructors, non-tenure-track instructors and teaching associates who are ready to be stretched in their thinking about students and teaching. Participants are not limited to only chemistry and mathematics instructors, as these core subjects impact many other disciplines downstream of introductory courses. We also strongly believe that new ideas will emerge from the work of small and diverse teams.

Applications are being accepted June 19-July 11 with notification of acceptance by July 12-15. A live webinar will be held 10-11:30 a.m. July 18. The formal IDEAs Lab will take place the week of July 25-29 with synchronous sessions 9 a.m. to noon Monday/Wednesday/Friday and asynchronous activity on Tuesday/Thursday for approximately two hours each day. 

Goals and Outcomes

Goals of the IDEAs Lab and larger NSF grant:

  • Development of several modules/“experiments” for testing in the curriculum
  • Generation of workshop materials for instructional and assessment training
  • Enhancement of networking between campuses for integrated curriculum
  • Facilitation of more interdisciplinary connections across STEM and beyond

Longer-term outcomes include:

  • Execution of innovative curricular changes that result in lowering of DFW rates in gateway STEM courses, eliminating achievement gaps, and increased graduation rates
  • Establishment of a sustainable and dynamic infrastructure for successful instructor preparation and cross-campus interdisciplinary collaboration

Expectations and deliverables for participants:

  • Attend July 18 webinar and engage in random coffee chat(s) 
  • Attend and engage in IDEAs Lab synchronous and asynchronous activities (July 25-29)
  • Completion of survey (July/Aug.), availability for a few meetings (fall 2022)
  • Submit plan for “small change” intervention and assessment (TBA, target date August 5) $1000*
  • Submit results and assessment from fall 2022 semester (TBA, target date December 20) $1,000*
  • Present project findings at meeting of IDEAs Lab teams (TBA spring 2023)

*Stipend deliverables

Updated: July 08, 2022