Purdue Week of SEISMIC

By Nita Tarchinski, edited by Ashley Atkinson

Our Story Continues in Lively West Lafayette

Purdue University Week of SEISMIC, April 4-8, 2022

With barely 2 weeks to catch our breath, SEISMIC came together again for the 2nd Week of SEISMIC! And this time, we were looking at 5 days jam-packed with events. Whew!

Purdue’s Week of SEISMIC emphasized several types of collaborative activities. We began with a hybrid gathering of representatives from teaching and learning centers across SEISMIC institutions. Out of town participants arrived Sunday night at the beautifully renovated Purdue Memorial Union. Monday began with a viewing of an IMPACT session. IMPACT stands for Instruction Matters: Purdue Academic Course Transformation. IMPACT has been running since 2011 and is a great example of course transformation. SEISMIC attendees appreciated the opportunity to see it in action!

In the afternoon we had our official gathering in the form of a hybrid brainstorming session. Representatives from 9 teaching centers, including from several Purdue campuses, shared insights on a few key questions.


  1. How do you currently support instructors (STEM in particular) to implement classroom innovations and create environments that are student-centered? If you are an instructor, how have you been supported by teaching and learning staff?
  2. How do we support instructors with less institutional power (lecturers, non-tenure track faculty, instructors of color) who may not always have the agency to implement innovations?
  3. How might lessons learned from these approaches be used to leverage or deepen collaborations between SEISMIC and teaching centers? 

The hybrid format worked impressively well, with in-person and virtual attendees able to interact and learn from each other. These discussions resulted in over 90 ideas being posted on a Jamboard, with a few notable themes on the roles of our Teaching and Learning colleagues:

  • Provide multiple points of entry for faculty and instructors to receive support, such as individual consultations, provision of feedback, workshops, reading groups, classroom observations, peer review, and intentional course and curriculum design and redesign.
  • Find ways and encourage instructors to create student-centered environments that require minimal time-investment, but have the potential to lead to time savings in the instructional process.
  • Foster collaboration among instructors through informal learning communities and communities of practice supported by the faculty center but led by instructors, or through formal faculty learning communities (FLC) embedded in professional development programs or course/curriculum redesign programs, some of which are very large and multi-year (e.g. Foundational Course Initiative at Michigan and IMPACT at Purdue).

We were happy to hear at the end of this event there was clear interest from attendees to more formally connect through SEISMIC. We are considering the Implementing Change Working Group as a possible home for the SEISMIC Teaching and Learning Community, which will continue to share resources and ideas through this collaboration.

We wrapped up Day 1 with food and drinks in the Purdue Memorial Union’s new BoilerUp Bar and 8Eleven Bistro. Smiles all around!

Day 2 continued the Teaching and Learning theme with another IMPACT session available for attending in-person or viewing online followed by Lightning Talks on Course Innovations. Nine presenters shared classroom innovations they have tried, inspiring attendees on activities they could do in their classes.

As we wrapped up our Teaching and Learning centered events, our Measurement team members started to arrive in West Lafayette. We met up in the evening at Bru Burger for absolutely delicious burgers, fries, and homemade sauces


Our Measurement conversations kicked off on Wednesday with an interactive session led by Emily Bonem on challenges and potential solutions related to data access and structures across SEISMIC. Attendees brainstormed in teams and then shared with the whole group. Some ideas shared included

  • Addressing complex and ill-defined structures by setting local and group norms
  • Creating a safe place in order to address fear of failure and establish trust
  • Creating more documentation in order to increase accessibility to data sources

From there we did a gallery walk, adding our own ideas for how to address the common problems faced at our institutions. Solutions shared included

  • Using SEISMIC as an organization to nudge administrators about supporting equity research
  • Brainstorming more often so that solutions can be proposed and explored
  • Participating in professional development / engaging in dialogue to increase confidence

Meaghan Pearson kept our energy up with her presentation, “Integrating QuantCrit Approaches to Stem Equity Work” which provided key insights from her recently published SEISMIC paper, “Integrating Critical Approaches into Quantitative STEM Equity Work” and was followed by lively discussion with the audience.

Tensions ran high during Nita Tarchinski’s presentation on “Opportunities to Engage with the  SEISMIC Collaboration” as both in-person and virtual participants vied to win SEISMIC swag items for knowing the most about the collaboration.



After a hearty lunch and walk around campus, we returned to the Purdue Memorial Union for an engaging presentation by W. Carson Byrd on his recently published book, Behind the Diversity Numbers: Achieving Racial Equity on Campus. Lucky in-person participants received the book and got it signed by the author!

Next up we had a “Future of Learning” presentation facilitated by Ed Berger and Jenna Rickus. Participants learned about innovative residential learning, focusing on when living and learning merge.

We wrapped up the afternoon discussing findings and recommendations shared by Shaun Harper at an earlier event, the Purdue Maximizing Student Potential conference.  Finally, we returned once more to 8Eleven Bistro for a scrumptious dinner with colleagues. It was wonderful to meet so many new people in-person.




Promoting Equity and Justice Through Pedagogical Partnership

Day 4 continued the data conversations and transitioned us to questions on how to use institutional data at different levels of the university for different types of change. Anne Weiss, the assistant director of the IDAtA project, shared about Purdue’s plans for using a sense of belonging instrument to transform institutional data into a rich body of strategic intelligence that is accessible, well-defined and useful to decision-makers at all levels of the organization.

Susan Cheng and Heather Rypkema facilitated a workshop on “Questioning Classroom Routines to Develop Equity-Minded Practice”, helping instructors to see equity-minded ways classroom data about students can be measured, interpreted, and used. Then, Linda Adler-Kassner and Marco Molinaro presented for Purdue administrators on “Using DEI Data Wisely” They shared tools for cultivating one’s message, including setting up a graphic of communication strategies to tailor one’s message to their audience, while staying in line with one’s personal values.

On the final day Alison Cook-Sather gave the keynote presentation on her book, “Promoting Equity and Justice through Pedagogical Partnerships“. Alison, along with student partners from Bryn Mawr, consulted with faculty at Purdue on how faculty can work together to create opportunities for students from underrepresented and equity-seeking groups to collaborate with faculty and staff to revise and reinvent pedagogies, assessments, and course designs, positioning equity and justice as core educational aims.

Purdue is running a book group on this book this spring, led by Daniel Guberman. The first meeting took place on Day 5 of the Purdue Week of SEISMIC, and in-person participants received a copy of the book as well.

The jam-packed Purdue Week of SEISMIC came to a close on Friday, April 8 after a dinner with the keynote speaker. What a week.

Up next, Santa Barbara!



Nita Tarchinski

Nita Tarchinski is the Project Manager for the Sloan Equity and Inclusion in STEM Introductory Courses (SEISMIC) Collaboration, coordinating multi-institutional and multidisciplinary research and teaching projects focused on making introductory STEM courses more equitable and inclusive.

Ashley Atkinson

Ashley Atkinson is a Program Assistant for SEISMIC Central, lending a hand to whichever projects need support. Her primary projects include the SEISMIC website, making graphics for various efforts, and editing a podcast. As an alum from Michigan State University, Ashley is passionate about equity and inclusion in STEM alongside science communication.