Building a Culture of Pedagogical Innovation: Overcoming Faculty Resistance to Change

Concurrent Session 3

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Why do faculty say "no" to innovation? Conversation will focus on identifying sites of resistance and developing "high impact practices" for successful faculty development.


Sheree Meyer is Dean for Undergraduate Studies at California State University, Sacramento. Having received a Ph.D. in Renaissance Literature at Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, she taught in the English Department and served as Chair of the Department at Sacramento State. As Dean for Undergraduate Studies, she oversees student success projects, the First Year Experience, the GE Honors Program, the Center for Teaching & Learning, the Community Engagement Center, and the Center for College & Career Readiness.

Extended Abstract

Many of us spend time focused on student success: improving course completion rates, addressing equity gaps, improving time-to-degree and increasing graduation rates. The goals of student success and long-term transformative change, however, cannot occur without curricular and pedagogical innovation, i.e. changes in what, how, and why faculty teach and learn. So, how do we create and sustain a culture of pedagogical innovation? How do we determine why faculty members say "no" to change, and once we have determined the sites of resistance, how do we provide support structures to facilitate and increase faculty success. Moving beyond the explicit (and no-less-genuine) reasons often given for lack of participation in innovationótime, workload, high standards, etc.ówhat keeps faculty members from trying new technologies, new methodologies, and new programs?

In reflecting on her own teaching practices and the difficulty in changing the dynamics of her own classroom, Jane Tompkins writes:

Each person comes into a professional situation dragging along behind her a long bag full of desires, fears, expectations, needs, resentmentsóthe list goes on. But the main component is fear. ("Pedagogy of the Distressed," College English, Vol.52, No. 6, 654)

If we assume that teachers are also learners withóamong other baggageóa healthy fear (fear of change, fear of failure, etc.), how can we apply the theories and practices of student success to faculty development? What are the high impact practices in faculty development? And, what constitutes faculty success?

In "Student Success: Definition, Outcomes, Principles and Practices," Joe Cuseo identifies seven processes as critical to student success:
1. Personal validation
2. Self-efficacy
3. Sense of Purpose
4. Active Involvement
5. Reflective Thinking
6. Social Integration, and
7. Self-Awareness ( )

In recent years and in response to course bottlenecks and their impact on low graduation rates, the California State University, has funded "Course Redesign with Technology"óa series of programs that provides campus faculty members with reassigned time, funding for student assistants, technology, and technological support. The facilitators of this conversation will discuss both what the system and their campus have done to address these processes in recruiting and supporting faculty, as well as assessing course redesign. Furthermore, the facilitators will discuss other system-wide and campus-specific approaches to "building a culture of innovation."

Presentation Description
Using the questions and concepts articulated above and referring to the specific, concrete ways in which course redesign projects at Sacramento State have engaged faculty in the processes identified by Cuseo and others as central to student success, the facilitators will encourage participants to do the following:

ï Identify sites of faculty resistance on their campuses
ï Unpack the motivations for resistance
ï Consider the institutional structures that contribute to a ëfear' of change
ï Consider ways in which their campuses have sought to address faculty development and faculty success
ï Explore the ways in which student success theory and practice can help re-envision course redesign and faculty development efforts

Goals for the Conversation
ï Create a safe space for honest and open dialogue regarding the barriers to innovation
ï Share challenges, successes, and failures that can help us build a culture of innovation
ï Rethink and reframe faculty resistance
ï Encourage administrators and faculty members to consider what aspects of institutional structure may be impeding innovation
ï Assess faculty development/course redesign in the context of faculty success
ï Share paradigms regarding effective programs for pedagogical innovation
ï Encourage participants to leave with at least two or three concrete ideas about how to improve the culture of innovation on their own campuses