Innovation and Adaptation in Higher Education: A Program’s Workforce Training

Concurrent Session 4

Brief Abstract

Lifelong learning is critical when considering program revision at a college or university.  When a college seeks to improve graduation or retention rates adaptations need to be made to promote student learning through faculty professional development.  This presentation seeks to explore training and creative recognitions for supporting faculty.


Dr. Krista Allison has more than 10 years of experience in education, working in K-12, university and non-profit settings. Her accomplishments include presentations and publications in national and international journals and a recently published book chapter. She is passionate about research, online education, and the importance of relationship and emotional intelligence in the classroom. Dr. Allison lives in Missouri with her husband and children. In her free time, she enjoys nature, travel, family, and friends.

Extended Abstract

Presentation Description and Goals

The following presentation will review lifelong learning relating to doctoral faculty at American College of Education (ACE). In the presentation, participants will learn about a case study involving an institution seeking to promote graduation rates at the doctoral level. Efforts to improve graduation rates over the past year impacts faculty. This presentation will focus on the faculty training implications of the program changes. The following will be explored throughout this presentation description: the problem examined at ACE, purpose of the presentation, faculty training, adult education and audience engagement.


            Over the past year, ACE’s Doctoral Program underwent a variety of modifications to better meet student needs and promote graduation rates.  In the process of making changes to the program, evidence suggested faculty would need training to update faculty and prepare for student transitions.  The problem of doctoral faculty training was met with revision of dissertation committee trainings, additional motivators for trainings (badges), revision of the faculty portal, and additional social media elements to engage faculty (Yammer).


            The purpose of this session will be to understand the singular case study of ACE’s Doctoral Program and revisions to faculty trainings. The presenters seek to express the various avenues which could be beneficial to others in similar situations. If an institution expects to improve graduation rates in students, implications for faculty are also forthcoming. Presenting this case study can assist others in a similar situation.

Faculty Training

People are the most valuable asset in a company (Bartlett &Ghoshal, 2002). As one purchases necessities, from pens and paper, to multi-million dollar facilities, the notion of return on investment is questionable. However, when one considers the most valuable asset in an organization, investing in the people of an organization and training is invaluable.  In the doctoral department at ACE, recognition of training and developing our faculty is frequently our focus.  Investing in the lifelong learning elements critical to our faculty has been a focus, as changes were made during the past year.

Promoting program changes successfully means faculty must be on board, and aware of the changes.  The changes range from courses, resources, expectations, and considerations. New courses stem from innovative ideas which were developed to fill a need at any university.  The faculty who currently teach at the university might have a connection to a course, or a few courses.  The classes might have been dropped or altered during the transition. Faculty need to be made aware of the changes, and how it impacts the classroom.  Resources for faculty to support and guide student learning could be affected. The expectations for how faculty facilitate a course, or the end results of the faculty might be different. Universities must consider the impact the changes have on the faculty.

The changes in the program denote a change in facilitation of courses, but for current professors’ professional development is prudent to foster growth and development of faculty.  A review of current trainings was considered to determine what professional development was needed.  Attention was given to where faculty struggle, seek guidance while working with doctoral students.  Questions of the location of old documents, and new documents, along with what the expectation was and at what time were of interest.  Providing faculty with current tools and information was of benefit.

Taking into consider what was needed led to the decision of facilitator.  When questions of what was needed, and whom would present the information were addressed, the next step is location. In an online college, location is simply in the same learning management system (LMS) in which faculty were already proficient. Blueprints of the trainings were developed based on the needs of the faculty who were providing the direct guidance and support for the doctoral students. After the blueprints were developed, the remaining questions were about the timeframe and the aesthetics of the training course.

Adult Learning

As adults, we bring a variety of beliefs with us to each learning experience, giving us a lens to view the information (Mezirow, 1993). An adult has memories, perceptions and ideas which permeate each learning experience, so acknowledging and utilizing those for further learning is critical (Knowles, 1978).  For these reasons, time was spent creating engaging and appealing training modules catering to doctoral faculty.

Additionally, the research exploring incentives and motivation for faculty illustrate the benefits of implementing badges (Glover, 2013). Creative badges illustrating the accomplishment for each training can be utilized through social media or email. Badging was implemented for each training session to provide additional motivation and illustrate accomplishment.

Audience Engagement

Audience engagement will take place through multiple efforts. First, live polling will be utilized to understand audience experience and emphasize adult learning principles. Polling of participant experiences regarding similar situations to the ones which will be discussed will be discussed. Then, a case study will be examined. Finally, the audience will be engaged through role playing and scenario discussions during the 10-minute Q&A. Both a powerpoint and a handout will be provided for conference attendees and website use.







Bartlett, C. A., & Ghoshal, S. (2002). Building competitive advantage through people. MIT Sloan management review, 43(2), 34.

Glover, I. (2013). Open badges: A visual method of recognising achievement and increasing learner motivation. Student Engagement and Experience Journal, 2(1), 1-6. doi:  10.7190/seej.vlil.66

Knowles, M. (1978). Andragogy: Adult learning theory in perspective. Community College Review, 5(3), 9-20.

Mezirow, J. (1993). A transformation theory of adult learning. In Adult Education Research Annual Conference Proceedings, (pp. 141-146).

Stupnisky, R.H., BrckaLorenz, A., Yuhas, B., Guay, F. (2018). Faculty members’ motivation for teaching and best practices: Testing a model based on self-determination theory across institution types. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 53(2), 15-26,