ERIC Number: EJ1101204
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Jun
Abstractor: As Provided
Colleagues as Change Agents: How Department Networks and Opinion Leaders Influence Teaching at a Single Research University
Andrews, T. C.; Conaway, E. P.; Zhao, J.; Dolan, E. L.
CBE - Life Sciences Education, v15 n2 Article 15 Jun 2016
Relationships with colleagues have the potential to be a source of support for faculty to make meaningful change in how they teach, but the impact of these relationships is poorly understood. We used a mixed-methods approach to investigate the characteristics of faculty who provide colleagues with teaching resources and facilitate change in teaching, how faculty influence one another. Our exploratory investigation was informed by social network theory and research on the impact of opinion leaders within organizations. We used surveys and interviews to examine collegial interactions about undergraduate teaching in life sciences departments at one research university. Each department included discipline-based education researchers (DBERs). Quantitative and qualitative analyses indicate that DBERs promote changes in teaching to a greater degree than other departmental colleagues. The influence of DBERs derives, at least partly, from a perception that they have unique professional expertise in education. DBERs facilitated change through co-teaching, offering ready and approachable access to education research, and providing teaching training and mentoring. Faculty who had participated in a team-based teaching professional development program were also credited with providing more support for teaching than nonparticipants. Further research will be necessary to determine whether these results generalize beyond the studied institution.
Descriptors: Research Universities, Science Departments, College Faculty, Change Agents, Teacher Influence, Social Networks, Leaders, Mixed Methods Research, Teacher Surveys, Interviews, Biological Sciences, Undergraduate Study, College Instruction, Educational Researchers, Network Analysis, Interpersonal Relationship
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A