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Predicting Change: What Increases Faculty Use Of Design And Group Projects?

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.791.1 - 6.791.13

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Carol Colbeck

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2525

Predicting Change: What Increases Faculty use of Design and Group Projects?

Carol L. Colbeck The Pennsylvania State University


Stakeholders often want evidence that curricular and pedagogical reforms will endure, but institutionalization of reforms is typically assessed superficially, if at all. This study involved developing and testing an Institutionalization Process Model. The model was developed from a qualitative investigation of factors influencing institutionalization of externally-funded curricular and pedagogical reforms at seven engineering schools. The reforms focused on content (design), method (group projects) and improving the climate for students underrepresented in engineering. The model posits that regulative, normative, and cognitive institutionalization processes affect the likely diffusion of curricular and pedagogical reforms beyond those directly involved in the reform effort. Institutional data and a faculty survey conducted at the seven engineering schools were used to test the model using logistic regression. Findings showed that cognitive institutionalization indicators had a stronger influence than regulative or normative indicators on diffusion of design and group projects. The normative indicator of perceived support for teaching was the only significant predictor of increased sensitivity to the needs of underrepresented students.


Many engineering colleges and departments have spend much money, time, and effort to revise and reform their undergraduate curricula and encourage teaching improvement. Many of these reform efforts are also supported by external funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation. Although funding and accrediting agencies often want colleges and universities to provide evidence that recent curricular reforms will endure, institutionalization of change is typically assessed superficially—if at all.

Institutionalization occurs as organizational participants no longer perceive the change as an innovative special project, but as an integral part of organizational functioning. Institutionalization of curricular and pedagogical change in colleges and universities is likely to involve regulative changes in organizational structures, normative changes in organizational values, and cognitive changes in beliefs and behaviors. Structural evidence of institutionalization might be found in mission and policy statements, administrative positions, and budgets. For example, a college might attempt to regulate changes by including a Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright À 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Colbeck, C. (2001, June), Predicting Change: What Increases Faculty Use Of Design And Group Projects? Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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