The purpose of this study was to understand the factors that support the adoption of active learning teaching strategies in undergraduate courses by faculty members, specifically in the STEM disciplines related to geoscience. The focus of the study centered on the context of the department which was identified as a gap in evaluation and educational research studies of STEM faculty development. The study used a mixed-method case study methodology to investigate the influences of departmental context on faculty members’ adoption of active-learning teaching practices. The study compared and contrasted the influence of two faculty development strategies initiated in the field of geoscience. Six university geoscience departments were selected that had participated in two national geoscience professional development programs. Data were generated from 19 faculty interviews, 5 key informant interviews, and documents related to departmental and institutional context. The study concluded that two main factors influenced the degree to which faculty who participated in geoscience faculty development reported adoption of active learning pedagogies. These conclusions are a) the opportunity to engage in informal, regular conversations with departmental colleagues about teaching promoted adoption of new teaching approaches and ideas and b) institutional practices regarding the ways in which teaching practices were typically measured, valued, and incentivized tended to inhibit risk taking in teaching. The conclusions have implications related to institutional policy, faculty development, and the role of evaluation.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2016. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: Stuart Yeh. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 227 pages.
Understanding the Factors that Support the Use of Active Learning Teaching in STEM Undergraduate Courses: Case Studies in the Field of Geoscience.
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