GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 163-2
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


IVERSON, Ellen, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College Street, Northfield, MN 55057,

The positive influence of the On the Cutting Edge (CE) program on faculty teaching has been measured through observational and survey data. Yet, less is understood about the factors that motivate and support changes in teaching within the departmental context. An exploratory multiple-method case study was conducted that compared and contrasted the influence of the CE Early Career Faculty Workshops and the Building Strong Geoscience Departments Traveling Workshops program. The programs had different strategies and foci. Multi-day Early Career workshops focused on change at the individual faculty member-level and included program components to prepare faculty to teach. Departments Traveling workshops focused on change at the departmental level and included program components less directly related to teaching practice (e.g., curricula, program assessment, workforce preparation). Six geoscience departments were selected that had participated in either or both of the programs. Data were generated from 19 faculty interviews, 5 key informant interviews, and documents related to the specific departmental and institutional context. Cross-case findings revealed three departmental patterns that promoted adoption of active teaching approaches. 1) Discussions about a candidate’s teaching approach and philosophy in hiring decisions conveyed an expectation for excellence in teaching. 2) Teaching-related conversations were fostered through common courses taught by multiple department faculty members. 3) Pedagogical or curricular challenges galvanized the department to take on evidence-based teaching or assessment strategies in departments where decision-making processes reflected high levels of mutual respect among faculty. While aspects from both programs were reported as valued, the CE Early Career workshops were attributed to have a stronger lasting influence on teaching within the department. The CE Early Career faculty recalled specific pedagogies that they continued to use, and they credited the workshop with cultivating their habit of discussing teaching with colleagues. In addition, faculty described how other departmental colleagues who participated in Early Career infused new teaching ideas into the department and propagated common values regarding high quality instruction.