Friday, March 18, 2016

Spreading Innovations into the Mainstream: Building Strong Foundations

Developing and validating a teaching innovation may be “easy.” But weaving it into the institutional fabric of teaching and learning? That’s really hard.

 At the University System of Maryland (USM), we have taken a close look at a recent series of initiatives piloting course redesign (2006–2014) . . . 

In the past, universities have tried to improve learning outcomes by altering curricula or improving advising. But experience and research in many quarters, including our research on course redesign across the University System of Maryland, suggest that altering courses and programs has a better chance of success if the institution strengthens seven foundations: 

1. Seek and retain senior administrators and department chairs who allocate their time and resources to improving learning outcomes. 

2. Where needed, work across silos to solve problems and seize opportunities, in the process developing relationships that later can be used for larger-scale, more sustained efforts. 

3. Encourage faculty discussion and debate about core beliefs about teaching, learning, and their own instructional roles. 

4. Help a large fraction of faculty gain experience with at least a few of the elements of learning-centered teaching.

5. Provide necessary infrastructure and support systems for more learning-centered and more technology-intensive approaches to teaching. 

6. Provide the kinds of assessment-related services needed to guide teaching and learning. 

7. Examine faculty personnel policies and practices to make sure that they do not subtly discourage faculty, full-time and part-time, from working to improve student learning.

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