Teaching Innovation: Done? Valued?

Inside Higher Ed has an article on Constant Curricular Change which discusses a survey of how often teachers change their courses.

The survey — of faculty members at all ranks at 20 four-year colleges and universities, including both public and private institutions — found that 86.6 percent make some revision to courses at least once a year. Revisions could be relatively minor, with changes in the syllabus, readings or assignments qualifying. But about 37 percent reported adopting a significant new pedagogy in at least one of their courses at least once a year — with new pedagogies being defined as such approaches as experiential learning, service learning and learning communities.

martin-syllabusI can totally see this. I revise mine at least a little every semester. I also keep a log of what worked and what didn’t and how I think it might work better the next semester. Then I try to integrate those.

If I am not happy with how something worked out, or sometimes if I am just bored, I will add new assignments or a new approach.

[T]he survey results point to a failure of higher education to communicate to the faculty the value placed on curricular innovation. The faculty members were asked a series of questions about how curricular and teaching innovation are valued and rewarded, and the results were mixed. Whereas a solid majority believe that such efforts are valued at the institutional level, only a minority believe this is the case within their disciplines, and as a result, most faculty members don’t appear to believe that these efforts will be rewarded in higher education as a whole.

Finley said that this finding suggests that a real cultural shift in academe about the value of teaching will come only when disciplines — seen by faculty as more focused on research — embrace the cause. That is because, to many faculty members, their professional identities are closely linked to their disciplines, not just their institutions, she said.

I don’t really see how there is any way in the academy to support teaching. Is there something being done that says “It’s good to be an innovator” that I don’t know about?

The art is by Phillip Martin.

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