Affordances and barriers to creating educational change: A case study of an educational innovation implemented into a first-year engineering design course

Sarah E. Zappe, Megan Huffstickler, Joseph C. Tise, Thomas A. Litzinger, Sven G. Bilén

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

This evidence-based instructional-practice paper describes a case study of the implementation of an educational innovation into a multi-instructor, multi-section first-year design course in the College of Engineering at Penn State University. Although literature from education and psychology fields provides many examples of how to enhance student learning, adoption rates for evidence-based instructional practices have been fairly low among engineering faculty. Even when teaching and learning centers are able to facilitate the adoption of evidence-based practices, encouraging a large fraction of engineering faculty to make substantial changes in instruction remains very challenging. This paper describes an educational innovation adopted by the engineering design program and the results of a qualitative study focusing on the affordances and barriers that emerged during the change process. The findings show that affordances that supported change were related to flexibility, fit of the instructional methods with the course, meeting a perceived need, ease of use, and financial incentives offered by the college's teaching and learning center. A sense of community yet autonomy also encouraged faculty to participate. Barriers included implementation ambiguity, time required to implement and to prepare, and a perceived lack of expertise in some of topics involved in the innovation such as ethics. Faculty resistance to change, the logistical concerns of the course, and characteristics of the university, as well as interpersonal dynamics also impacted the likelihood of adoption. The results are discussed in terms of implications for faculty developers and teaching and learning centers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
Volume2018-June
StatePublished - Jun 23 2018
Event125th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Salt Lake City, United States
Duration: Jun 23 2018Dec 27 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)

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