Karen Pelletreau, PhD

Current Role

Director of Faculty Educational Development


Ph.D. Marine Bioscience, University of Delaware

M.S.  Marine Biology, Western Washington University

B.S. Biology, UNH

Background and Interests

Karen’s first experience teaching was as a graduate teaching assistant followed by teaching as adjunct faculty at Gig Harbor Community College in Washington State. While pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of Delaware, she began a parallel career interest in teaching and learning as an Institute for Transforming University Education Fellow, and continued gaining experience in the classroom throughout her Ph.D. and postdoc (at the University of Maine). Karen taught at the University of Connecticut where, as planning faculty for the first offering of the now global  Small World Initiative,  she helped develop a course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE). Karen returned to UMaine as faculty in the School of Biology and Ecology, where her scholarship of teaching and learning focused on how and why biology faculty adopt new teaching practices. It was this experience that concretized her interest in faculty educational development and the importance of supporting faculty to embark on new adventures in their classrooms to support student success. Karen joined CITL in 2017 where she has been developing and delivering educational development opportunities for UMaine faculty and graduate students.

Courses Taught

Karen has taught courses in Introductory Biology for majors and non-majors and in both large lectures and small seminars, Introductory Microbiology, a research-based Antibiotic Discovery course, Beneficial Microbes, Scientific Communication, A History of Science through Literature, Phycology (no that is not a typo) and several courses on Symbiosis – after all she also spent years studying how marine invertebrates kidnap photosynthetic organelles. More recently Karen has enjoyed developing and teaching a course on the Science of Learning, and also runs the non-credit Graduate Teaching Academy for graduate students and postdocs at UMaine.

Selected Educational Publications & Presentations 

Herakova, L., Chien, M. T. Buchanan, R., Roberge, K. and Pelletreau K.N. (in press) Syllabus unfinishing(s)/unfinished syllabus-ing as multi-sited feminist mentoring. In J. Pauly, L. Hernandes & S. Munz (Eds), Feminist Mentoring in Academia, Lexington Books.

Pelletreau, K.N. (2022). Centering racial-equity in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: found poetry, reflexivity, and new directions. [Conference Session]. Professional and Organizational Developers National Conference, Seattle, WA, United States. https://pod2022seattle.sched.com/event/1AeZU/centering-racial-equity-in-sotl-found-poetry-reflexivity-and-new-directions

Hakkola, L., Chien, M. T., and Pelletreau, K.N. 2020. Exploring socialization and teaching self-efficacy through a community of practice for international teaching assistants. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 20(3). https://doi.org/10.14434/josotl.v20i3.28718.

Pelletreau, K. N. (2020) Spring forward: Lessons learned from teaching remotely.[Conference Session]. College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Advising Virtual Conference, Orono ME, United States.

Pelletreau, K.N., Knight, J.K., Lemons, P.P., McCourt, J.S., Merrill, J.E., Nehm, L.B., Prevost, L.B., Urban-Lurain, M. and Smith, M.K. 2018. A faculty professional development model that improves student learning, encourages active-learning instructional practices, and works for faculty at multiple institutions. CBE Life Sci Education 17:es5, 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.17-12-0260

Smith, M.K., Toth, E.S., Borges, K., Dastoor, F., Johnston, J., Jones, E.H., Nelson, P.R., Page, J., Pelletreau, K.N., Prentiss, N., Roe, J.L., Staples, J., Summers, M., Trenckmann, E., and Vinson, E. 2018. Using place-based economically relevant organisms to improve student understanding of the roles of carbon dioxide, sunlight, and nutrients in photosynthetic organisms. CourseSource. https://doi.org/10.24918/cs.2018.1

Pelletreau, K.N & Gardner S. K. (2018).  Addressing bias in the classroom. [Conference Session] Advancing Women in Academia Conference, Bangor, ME, United States


Pelletreau, K.N. (2018 ). Using group work effectively to promote student learning. [Conference Workshop] Research in STEM Education Center Teaching Symposium, Orono ME, United States.

McCourt, J.S., Andrews, T.C., Knight, J.K., Merrill, J.E., Nehm, R.H., Pelletreau, K.N., et. al., 2017. What motivates biology instructors to engage and persist in teaching professional development? CBE Life Sci Education. 16:ar54; https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.16-08-0241

Trenckmann, E., Smith, M.K., Pelletreau, K.N., and Summers, M.M. 2017. An active-learning lesson that targets student understanding of population growth in ecology. CourseSource. https://doi.org/10.24918/cs.2017.11

Pelletreau, K.N., Andrews, T., Armstrong, N., Bedell, M.A., Dastoor, F., Dean, N., et. al., 2016. A clicker-based study that untangles student thinking about the processes in the central dogma. CourseSource. https://doi.org/10.24918/cs.2016.15

Pelletreau, K.N. (2016). Using student constructed responses to guide the development and adoption of instructional activities by a cross-institutional instructional development team. [Conference Session] Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research National Conference. Minneapolis, MN, United States

Faculty’s active-learning lesson improves student understanding of biology concept