Tenure at Boise State
Susan joined the chemistry department as a faculty member in 1996. From 2006-2020, she served as the Director/Executive Director of Boise State’s Center for Teaching and Learning. In 2020, Susan moved into the role of Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies, where she focuses on supporting undergraduate student success. She remains engaged in the chemistry department, as she continues to teach, primarily in the general chemistry sequence.
I am married to Carl Brown who is an Air Quality Analyst at the Department of Environmental Quality. We have two fantastic college-age boys. We like to camp, hike, and cross country ski.
My research interests focus on understanding how faculty make teaching choices and on how institutional change efforts can be successful (e.g., efforts to focus on shifting the culture of teaching or to oriented toward diversity, equity and inclusion). I have particular interests in understanding strategies that can be used at both the individual faculty level and at the institutional level to support student learning and persistence to graduation.
For information about recent funding, publications, and presentations, see my CV.
“Mapping Change in Higher Education – Social Networks and STEM Reforms”, co-PI, NSF IUSE Program, $412,464 ($118,920 is Boise State’s portion in a multi-institution collaborative project). 2017-2020.
“Promoting Education Reform through Strategic Investments in Systemic Transformation (PERSIST)”, PI, NSF WIDER Program, $2M, 2013-2018.
Recent Publications and Presentations
Lane, A.K., Skvoretz, J., Ziker, J.P. Couch, B.A., Earl, B., Lewis, J. E. McAlpin, J. D. Prevost, L. B., Shadle, S. E., Stains, M. (2019) Investigating how faculty social networks and peer influence relate to knowledge and use of evidence-based teaching practices. International Journal of STEM Education 6: 28. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40594-019-0182-3
Shadle, S.E., Liu, Y., Lewis, J.E. and Minderhout, V. (2018) Building a Community of Transformation and a Social Network Analysis of the POGIL Project. Innovative Higher Education 43: 475. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10755-018-9444-0
Shadle, S.E., Marker, A., Earl, B. (2017) Faculty drivers and barriers: laying the groundwork for undergraduate STEM education reform in academic departments. International Journal of STEM Education, 4:8. DOI: 10.1186/s40594-017-0062-7.
I am a teacher of chemistry. While I find great value in the perspectives my discipline provides, it was probably more important to my career that I ended up as a teacher. (Had I taken different courses or had different mentors, perhaps I would now be a professor of sociology instead.) This is because I find I am “filled up” by the activity of interacting with students, finding out where they are and what they need, and then using my talents, knowledge and enthusiasm to help them create their own learning process. (I really LIKE students!).
When I teach I have two principle goals. First, I want to leave my students with the ability to think like a chemist – to visualize the world at the level of atoms and molecules and to understand how we develop conceptual ideas from data. Second, I want them to develop transferable process skills that could be valuable to them outside of my class. I know that weeks and months after my course, most of the details will not be useful to them and so they will forget those details. (As a result, I have always worked to minimize memorization and plug-and-chug problem solving). However, if I have helped them to develop the ability to think like a chemist, then they may use that thinking to ask questions at a chemical level (e.g., I wonder how long it takes for the active ingredient in this sunscreen to break down so its no longer useful?) or at least to appreciate that there is a molecular-level explanation for real things. Because most students I teach will not become chemists, I also want them to be able to approach problems in other disciplinary areas (or real life!) with greater facility because they took my course.
The approaches I choose to use in my courses come from several core beliefs about students, learning, and teaching. First, I believe that all students are capable of high levels of achievement. Second, I believe that each student must construct his or her understanding of material and any new material must be integrated with knowledge they already have. And third, for the learning students do in my class to be transferable, I must help students to think about their own learning. On the first day I tell them I am not smarter than they are, I’ve just been at it longer. Further, I tell them that I believe every one of them can succeed. This belief system requires me to meet students where they are and to differentiate student assistance whenever possible.
I have what I expect will be a life-long investment in learning, which extends to my own learning about how to facilitate student learning. This process involves my reading and attending conferences about teaching and learning. It also involves trying new things and assessing their effectiveness in my classes. Recently, I’ve begun to examine and reflect on more carefully how students with different identities might experience the learning environment in my classroom. My goal is to create a space in which every student is welcomed and supported to thrive.