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Faculty Embrace Collaborative Learning Techniques: Sustaining Pedagogical Change

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Faculty Development Technical Paper Session

Tagged Division

Faculty Development Constituent Committee

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Paper Authors


Teresa Lee Tinnell University of Louisville Orcid 16x16

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Terri Tinnell is a Curriculum and Instruction PhD student and Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Louisville. Her research interests include interdisciplinary faculty development, STEM identity, and retention of engineering students through career.

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Patricia A. Ralston University of Louisville

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Dr. Patricia A. S. Ralston is Professor and Chair of the Department of Engineering Fundamentals at the University of Louisville. She received her B.S., MEng, and PhD degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Louisville. Dr. Ralston teaches undergraduate engineering mathematics and is currently involved in educational research on the effective use of technology in engineering education, the incorporation of critical thinking in undergraduate engineering education, and retention of engineering students. She leads a research group whose goal is to foster active interdisciplinary research which investigates learning and motivation and whose findings will inform the development of evidence-based interventions to promote retention and student success in engineering. Her fields of technical expertise include process modeling, simulation, and process control.

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This research paper describes a multiple case study of three engineering faculty members who participated in a faculty learning community (FLC) at least two years prior. That FLC focused on encouraging and supporting faculty to implement collaborative learning techniques within a variety of courses, and this paper reports on how faculty sustain those efforts independently at least two years later. Extensive research has illuminated the benefits of collaborative teaching techniques on student learning [1], [2], [3]. Specific benefits include: improvements in student achievement, quality of interpersonal interactions, self-esteem, student attitudes, and retention. In addition, the accrediting agency for engineering programs [4] precisely links student collaboration to the engineering curriculum via two of the eleven required student outcomes [4]. Despite the mounting evidence that should inspire engineering faculty to strive toward implementing collaborative learning techniques in their courses, engagement in collaborative teaching practices have shown slow progress [5]. Initial data for this multiple case study was collected through semi-structured interviews [6] with all original faculty members that indicated having some level of sustainment in collaborative student learning techniques in their courses, long after the conclusion of the FLC. Purposeful sampling [7] was used to identify the two faculty for this study due to their various creative uses of collaborative student learning techniques in their classes, leadership in encouraging others to engage in collaborative learning, and persistence in participation of continued faculty development in collaborative learning. During the interviews faculty were prompted to share their experiences of implementing collaborative learning techniques within their courses, and to articulate features that they adapted over time to their course context. A cross-case analysis used classroom observations, which were conducted following the semi-structured interviews. Results indicate these faculty members, who sustained collaborative student learning within their courses, shared similar characteristics. These characteristics include faculty beliefs about the effectiveness of collaborative learning techniques, and faculty’s emphasis of student needs over their own. Key elements of the FLC structure (i.e. peer collaboration and regular meeting schedule) were referred to by faculty as integral features that enabled their success in implementing and sustaining collaborative learning techniques in their courses. This study has implications that benefit faculty developers, faculty development facilitators, and faculty exploring ways for sustaining pedagogical change.

Tinnell, T. L., & Ralston, P. A. (2019, June), Faculty Embrace Collaborative Learning Techniques: Sustaining Pedagogical Change Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32836

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