An exploratory case study of one department’s teaching culture in order to promote active learning

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Abbie P. Wrights (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Michael Hemphill

Abstract: There is a plethora of research showing the effectiveness of active learning in a variety of academic disciplines; however, very few higher education faculty implement these techniques effectively into their classrooms. Departmental teaching culture influences the use of active learning as faculty’s teaching behaviors often reflect the shared beliefs and assumptions embedded in the department about teaching. Teaching culture is reflected in three interrelated areas including 1) faculty’s teaching perspectives, 2) the actual practice of teaching, and 3) departmental/institutional policies related to teaching. Attempts to promote pedagogical change must be context-specific and take into consideration departmental teaching culture. The purpose of this case study was to explore one department’s teaching culture and, using that information, highlight culturally relevant pathways through which active learning can be promoted. Focus groups, systematic observations, and document analysis were used and analyzed using the constant comparison method. Four themes were revealed under the category of perspectives: constructivist learning environment, social connection, autonomy and independence, and pedagogical solitude. The observed practices revealed that the courses, on average, used didactic styles of teaching; however, the narrative of the observation jottings revealed a variety of teaching strategies being used. Faculty showed an intrinsic motivation to learn about teaching and acknowledged that formal resources existed for professional development but barriers to pedagogical change were also identified. Policies revealed that teaching excellence is expected yet less emphasized for those with research obligations. Findings suggest that active learning in this department should focus on interactive lecturing while promoting social connection. Recommendations for action items include increasing educational development opportunities, increasing peer review, and creating a Teaching Advisory Committee.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2022
Active learning, Teaching culture
Kinesiology $x Study and teaching (Higher) $v Case studies
Active learning $v Case studies

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