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A Model for Spurring Organizational Change Based on Faculty Experiences Working Together to Implement Problem-based Learning

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Institutional Change

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Shannon Massie Chance Dublin Institute of Technology

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Prof. Shannon Chance is a licensed architect with 18 years of experience teaching three major subjects: architecture (at Virginia Tech and Hampton University, where she was Professor of Architecture), education (at William and Mary University), and engineering (at Dublin Institute of Technology in Ireland where she serves as Lecturer in the School of Multidisciplinary Technologies). Alongside teaching, Shannon earned a PhD in higher education in 2010 and developed a focus on engineering education research through a Fulbright Fellowship and two Marie Skłodowska-Curie research fellowships. She is now completing the second of these, working at University College London's Centre for Engineering Education.

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Gavin Duffy Dublin Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16

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I am a lecturer in the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering in Dublin Institute of Technology since 2002. Before that I worked in industry as a chemical engineer and control systems engineer. I’m actively engaged in engineering education research and am particularly interested in topics related to spatial ability and problem-based learning.

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This research paper provides a case study of experiences of engineering faculty members at a large public university in Ireland working together to transform their teaching methods. We conducted this study to identify essential characteristics of their recognizable shift from teacher- to student-centered pedagogies. Here, we investigate eight teachers’ experiences of a faculty-led learning community designed to help individuals transform their courses. This small collection of faculty met regularly to discuss ways to facilitate and assess students working in groups. Outside the group’s formal meetings, participants brought important issues to the forefront of discussion with colleagues. Participation in the learning group encouraged, supported, and helped sustain change. They took the lead in advocating for change across their school, and spearheaded the program-wide change evident today. Now, every student in the Bachelor of Engineering program experiences student-centered learning (SCL) pedagogies including group- and problem-based learning (PBL) and this group’s contributions provide a cornerstone for the B. Eng. program.

To understand how key players experienced and achieved change, we conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews with individual faculty members. We used a ground theory approach along with template analysis to study interview transcripts. We examined experiences of those most active in the learning group—as well as those who contributed to the effort but were not part of the formal learning group. We probed issues and challenges they faced and the affect this learning group had on them as engineering educators. All members described having an active champion, an experienced and informed advisor, various forms of institutional support, and a group of colleagues interested in discussing pedagogy and implementing new approaches. From this, we distilled a model for encouraging transformation that holds promise for use elsewhere.

Chance, S. M., & Duffy, G. (2018, June), A Model for Spurring Organizational Change Based on Faculty Experiences Working Together to Implement Problem-based Learning Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29701

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