Overcoming the Obstacles to Teaching Reform

Friday 1:30pm-4:00pm Gordon: Symphony Meeting Room
Afternoon Mini Workshop


Sara Harris, University of British Columbia
Transitions to evidence-based, student-centered teaching can involve practical, human, and system-level challenges. How do we transform our own teaching practices, and also develop critical mass to change cultural norms? This workshop will explore effecting change at personal, departmental, and institutional levels, drawing on participants' experience and community resources. All are welcome, whether your obstacles are past, present, or future.


Goals of the program:

  • Envision the teaching reforms you want to see - small, medium, or large
  • Identify obstacles to getting there
  • Draft a plan to begin overcoming the obstacles


1:30 Welcome, introductions, meet others
Workshop Slides (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 2.8MB Jul22 16)

1:45 Activity: Your hopes for change

In this activity, participants will generate and share ideas about changes you would like to effect in your situation. We will cluster these ideas to identify common aims for reform.

  • What would you like to see change?
  • Why is change important to you?
  • What evidence suggests to you that change is needed?

2:15 Activity: What's in your way?

In this activity, participants will generate and share perceptions of barriers.

  • What are the barriers to your implementing change?
  • What are the barriers to your department implementing change?
  • What are the barriers to your institution implementing change?

2:45 Change Strategies - mini-lesson

  • A Matrix of Change Strategies (Henderson, Beach, and Finkelstein, 2011)
  • A Model for Systemic Institutional Change in STEM (Elrod and Kezar, 2015)

3:00 Activity: Overcoming the obstacles

  • Getting Started Worksheet: Where are you and your institution in the Keck/PKAL model? Getting Started Worksheet (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 130kB Jul21 16)
  • Share Challenges and Experience in Effecting Teaching Reform
  • What has worked?
  • What has not worked?
  • What do you think will work?
  • Draft a personal action plan, identifying tools, strategies, resources, funding, and colleagues who could help you implement the changes you want to see. Action Plan Worksheet (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 76kB Jul21 16)
  • Share key aspects of action plans with the group. Identify common themes. Identify roles for geoscience education community

3:55 Workshop evaluation

4:00 Adjourn


Chasteen, Stephanie V., Katherine K. Perkins, Warren J. Code, Carl E. Wieman, 2015. The Science Education Initiative: An Experiment in Scaling Up. Chapter 5 in: Weaver, G.C., W.D. Burgess, A.L. Childress and L. Slakey (Eds.). Transforming Institutions: Undergraduate STEM Education for the 21st Century. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press.

Elrod, Susan, and Adriana Kezar, 2015. Increasing Student Success in STEM: A Guide to Systemic Institutional Change. A workbook for campus teams. A Keck/PCAL (Project Kaleidoscope) project at the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Search for "aacu.org ASystemicGuideToChange_Workbook_June2015.pdf" and look for "Handout 3". This document is a little tricky to find, but very useful.

Elrod, Susan and Adriana Kezar, 2015. Increasing Student Success in STEM. Peer Review, vol. 17, no. 2.

Handelsman, Jo, Sarah Miller, and Christine Pfund, 2007. Scientific Teaching. Chapter 6: Institutional Transformation. W.H. Freeman and Company. NY, NY.

Henderson, Charles, Andrea Beach & Noah Finkelstein, 2011. Facilitating change in undergraduate STEM instructional practices: An analytic review of the literature. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(8), 952–984. http://doi.org/10.1002/tea.20439

InTeGrate Webinar, 27 May 2016: Making Change Happen at Your Institution: How to Overcome Practical Challenges and Build Momentum includes links to several more useful resources about institutional change.

NAGT Traveling Workshops Program at http://nagt.org/nagt/profdev/twp/index.html

Photos of Activity 1 outcomes