Each of us strives to help our students learn key concepts and competencies, and each substantive step toward that goal is an accomplishment. To inspire, encourage, and sustain great teaching, we also need to effect changes in our departments and programs, and this is a complex, multi-layered undertaking. What are the greatest challenges to department-level implementation of evidence-based teaching practices and the recommendations of Vision and Change? Each department or program is unique, but there are overlapping themes at diverse institutions across the country. These themes include:
-- The power of academic traditions: Faculty may be skeptical of education scholarship and can be reluctant to change how they teach.
-- The challenges of scientific teaching: Scholarly teaching is an iterative and ongoing process, with ups and downs, and each setting requires slightly different solutions. Good assessments are essential.
-- Reward structures and top-down resources: Faculty investments of time and energy in evidence-based teaching may not be recognized and rewarded sufficiently to inspire and sustain change.
-- Student resistance to change: Students may rate instructors who lecture as more expert, and they may resist out-of-class work (flipped classrooms)
-- Professional development of graduate TA's or adjunct instructors.
As we seek solutions to the puzzles at our own institutions, networks are powerful. We learn from each other and take heart in the knowledge that amazing, dedicated scholars across the country are working towards similar goals. Department-level change, like teaching, is an intellectually challenging enterprise.
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