Discipline-Based Education Research Associates

What: DBER Associates is a cohort program, much like a Faculty Learning Community, that is framed around the scholarly and creative practices and disciplinary expertise of each faculty member through the strategic implementation of knowledge produced through DBER communities from targeted disciplines.

Who: Mid-level and senior faculty (associate professors and professors)


  • Increase the frequency and quality of evidence-based teaching practices at Miami University.
  • Support senior faculty in improving their instruction and student learning outcomes guided by research on teaching and learning in their disciplines.

How it Works:

  • DBER Associates will be immersed in the consumption of their discipline's education research with the aim of identifying discipline-specific research products that align with their courses and those of two tenured colleagues.
  • Sessions introducing them to the literature and helping them to access and decode resources will be facilitated by Ellen Yezierski, CTE Director. The group of DBER Associates will meet each month with Yezierski (akin to an FLC) and focus on domain-general strategies to access, decode, and apply educational research.
  • DBER Associates will each form a disciplinary cohort with their two colleagues, meet monthly, translate discipline-specific research to strategies to improve teaching and learning in their particular courses, and consume and adopt research-based practices to implement in their teaching.

Support: Upon successful completion of the program, DBER Associates will receive $750 in professional development funds. Colleagues in their disciplinary cohorts will receive $500 in professional development funds. All funds must be spent by June 1, 2020.

Testimonials: Here is what 2019 DBER Associates from the departments of Biology, Music, Speech Pathology & Audiology, Sociology & Gerontology, and Statistics said about the program.

  • "This gave me an opportunity to step back and really consider learning theory in the context of my students and discipline. Having someone knowledgeable to help identify appropriate theories was extremely helpful, as was learning from the others in the group." —2019 DBER Associate
  • "This is a rare opportunity for well-established faculty to join with other teacher/scholars in other disciplines to recharge their pedagogical batteries. Using discipline-based education research and collaborating with colleagues allowed explication of new ways to stimulate students to engage more deeply with their studies." —2019 DBER Associate
  • "The DBER Associates program gave me resources to explore best teaching practices within my discipline. Many of us have a vague desire to use the literature to improve our pedagogy, but lack the motivation to follow through. DBER Associates inspired me to do what I knew I should be doing anyway. In my case, I found that there wasn't much literature on how to teach my chosen class effectively. So, I'm working with colleagues around the world to learn how other people teach this class, and I will then use this knowledge to overhaul my own class to make the content more relevant and the delivery more learner-centered." —2019 DBER Associate
  • "Despite being a senior faculty, I didn't know that there would be so many resources to facult. DBER [Associates] would already be worth it only for the opportunity to share concerns and get suggestions and advice from experienced colleagues, but it is much more than that. We were directly with experts who can address and help find practical solutions to challenges we face in the classroom. And these challenges frequently go beyond the classroom, because everything we do is connected: Personal relationships, cultural differences, university relationships, etc." —2019 DBER Associate

How to Participate: Complete the application by December 20, 2019 for the Spring 2020 DBER Associates cohort. Apply here.

Program Background and Rationale

DBER is an acronym that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s and popularized by the National Research Council's 2012 publication known informally as the DBER Report (1). Although the disciplines represented in the report are limited to physics, biology, chemistry, geology, and engineering, the report provides a set of compelling arguments for the value of disciplinary experts engaged in the study of teaching and learning within their respective disciplines. There are scholarly journals and sections within journals devoted to DBER in disciplines not specified in the report such as mathematics, statistics, music, art, accounting, economics, and history, to name a few. A cursory review yields a wealth of DBER across disciplines that is being generated by education researchers in disciplinary departments in higher education. When DBER is consumed by other researchers, it is cited in subsequent articles and advances the work (and researcher) within the DBER community. Although this model is not different from any other research discipline, it does not necessarily invite the translation of the work to and uptake by practitioners. In other words, when a professor of Economics adopts a classroom strategy she learned about in The Journal of Economic Education, there is no citation. Thus, the reward and advancement systems within higher education do not encourage DBER faculty to translate their research findings to practice (beyond an implications section at the end of an article). As such, DBER is yielding high-quality evidence- and theory-based products that are not being methodically applied to the classroom. DBER Associates will facilitate the scholarly translation and adoption of DBER to Miami courses to improve instruction and student learning.

(1) National Research Council. (2012). Discipline-Based Education Research: Understanding and Improving Learning in Undergraduate Science and Engineering. S.R. Singer, N.R. Nielsen, and H.A. Schweingruber, Editors. Committee on the Status, Contributions, and Future Directions of Discipline-Based Education Research. Board on Science Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.