The Center for the Advancement of STEM Teaching and Learning Excellence (CASTLE) believes that effective and inclusive teaching are essential to both a) promote the success of a broad and representative population of students and b) improve the scientific literacy of students. There is a national need for improving STEM education to diversify the national STEM talent pool, stimulate global competitiveness, and promote use of critical thinking and data-driven decision making within society. The mission of CASTLE is to affect institutional change in STEM education by promoting effective and inclusive teaching. Teaching for inclusivity and equity allows the differences to transform the way we (the system) think, teach, learn and act such that all experiences and ways of being are handled with fairness and justice. We accomplish our mission through a robust program of fundamental and action research, educational program development and implementation, community building, and meaningful collaborations.
Our Core Values
K-Faculty Focus: Our initiatives focus on promoting effective and inclusive teaching across the educational spectrum.
Interdisciplinary: Our work is interdisciplinary by design, led by an interdisciplinary team, and respectful of discipline-specific differences. We believe there is strength in working across disciplines to promote effective and inclusive teaching.
Stakeholder Driven: Our work to promote effective and inclusive teaching is driven by the needs of and the efforts of our stakeholders. This includes the community we are building with faculty, students, administrators, partners, the local community, and national and international networks.
Diversity and Inclusion: Our initiatives emphasize use of pedagogical approaches known to be inclusive of all populations. Inclusive practices underlie all of our work. Inclusive teaching strategies are intended to ensure that all students feel: supported to freely learn and explore new ideas, safe to express their views in a civil manner, and respected as individuals and members of groups.
Research Informs Practice: Evidence-based pedagogies have been demonstrated to be effective and inclusive through research. Our work promotes the use of evidence-based pedagogies, and develops the evidence that particular pedagogical practices are effective and inclusive.
Addressing Issues of National Need and Global Importance: Our work contributes to the national landscape of STEM pedagogy and globally important issues relevant to promoting effective and inclusive teaching in STEM.
CASTLE would like to thank Alonzo Flowers, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Graduate College and CASTLE Faculty Fellow, for his assistance as we updated and re-envisioned our mission and vision.
CASTLE was founded in 2014, and is currently home to more than ten funded projects. CASTLE is housed at Drexel University, which has a long history of experiential learning and innovation in STEM education, embodied by both the Co-Op program and the E⁴ program, an NSF-funded, inquiry-based curriculum pioneered by the College of Engineering in the 1980s.
Recently, CASTLE has not only been successful in securing new funding for STEM education initiatives, but also in becoming part of large, national programs focused on improving STEM education, including the UTeach and CIRTL (Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning) National Networks which encompass 78 top universities. These networks includes universities such as Columbia, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Michigan State, Northwestern, UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Boulder, UT Austin, UW Madison, and Yale.