Initial Publication Date: November 12, 2015

Workshop on Engaging Faculty: Identified Challenges

The campus action plans identified challenges to their proposed reforms. These challenges included getting buy-in from the department or college. Participants identified resource challenges, increasing importance of research, and that sometimes existing departmental cultures are not aligned with the undergraduate pedagogical mission. They identified getting buy-in from faculty as important. They noted that some faculty are skeptical of improving teaching, that there is lack of motivation to change, and that they perceived that implementing evidence based teaching practices is hard. Faculty are also worried about failing in the classroom.

Participants identified as a barrier the heterogeneity of the system. There is complexity in the undergraduate student population. There is diversity in the instructors and their experience with evidence-based education. There is diversity in the division of labor within departments, who get assigned to teach which course. And, different stakeholders have different values and priorities.

The action teams were concerned with getting the process of change right (i.e. how to build momentum and build a team to enact change). Their concerns centered around identifying appropriate faculty to spearhead change; integrating new people; getting the right mix of faculty involved in this change process; and getting the timing right (at what point in the school year). One action plan noted the importance (and challenge) of creating a safe space to experiment and possibly fail.

The action plans identified resources needed for change. These were having real institutional buy-in and incentives; faculty time for reflection; external funding and support (which speak loudly); funds for equipment and renovation; space (i.e. active learning classes); more DBER expertise; and support in the form of graduate teaching assistants (for at least one institution the ratio of undergraduate/graduate population is relatively small).

Several campuses were concerned with sustainability - how to sustain over time, with turnover, and beyond the funding of particular grants. How to establish metrics, evaluate, and document what they are learning was also identified as a challenge.