Saturday, May 11, 2013
Literature Review of Faculty Development in Higher Education
The following is an excerpt from a paper I wrote that will be part of my dissertation. I will post another part separately. This portion should help someone who is trying to get a grasp on the literature on college faculty development.
The search for relevant literature began in the Adult Education database of the UGA library, i.e., GALILEO. “Faculty development,” “self-directed learning,” “assessment,” “professional development,” “higher education,” “college,” “university,” and “reflection/reflective practice” were the search terms (or variations of those words). The names of prominent authors in these topics were also used, such as Candy, Knowles, and Cranton. The GIL database was also consulted to obtain the primary texts needed, such as Kolb and Tough. Occasionally Google Scholar was used, but only for leads. What I could not find in GALILEO I was able to obtain through Interlibrary Loan Services at XX College.
Faculty Development in Higher Education
This subject area is vast. It can be divided into three main foci. First, how to run faculty development centers and how to “come in from the margins” (Schroeder, 2011), or how developers can gain power and influence within the institutional hierarchy (Sorcinelli, 2007; Sorcinelli, Austin, Eddy, & Beach, 2006; Caffarella & Zinn, 1999; Kaplan, 2000; Dawson & Brightnell, 2010; Diamond, 2005; Diaz, Garrett, Kinley, Moore, Schwartz, & Kohrmann, 2009; Hines, 2009, 2011, 2012; Laursen & Rocque, 2009; Schonwetter, Dawson, Britnell, 2009; Mighty, Ouellett, & Stanley, 2010; Candy, 1996). Second, ways to train professors to be better instructors, which includes discussions of teaching techniques, motivation, and incentives. Third, theoretical reflections on what faculty development should be and how adult learning theory and brain research on learning relate to the field. The first of these three foci is interesting but tangential to this study; the Professional and Organizational Development Network is one of the main producers of this information. That information was helpful in sending me to other sources and getting a sense of the profession as a whole. Also irrelevant to the study is faculty development in elementary and secondary education, although it is also a robust field. In my first literature review I avoided literature from outside the U.S., but I have not done so in this review; faculty development literature from the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia was especially helpful. The second two foci are more relevant to this particular literature review.
In terms of literature on ways to present programs—and what programs to present—to improve instruction in higher education, articles and books abound. What I found surprising in my first perusals of the literature seven months ago was the wealth of literature produced by faculty developers and professors in medical, pharmacy, nursing, and dental colleges and schools (Aronson, 2011, Baker Reeves, Egan-Lee, Leslie, & Silver, 2010; Silver & Leslie, 2009); Bandiera, Lee, & Foote, 2005; Dieter, 2009; Knight, Carrese, & Wright, 2009; Lieff, 2010; McLean, Cilliers, & Van Wyck, 2008; Pololi, Clay, Lipkin, Hewson, Kaplan, & Frankel, 2001; Pololi & Frankel, 2005; Steinert, Mann, Centeno, Dolmans, Spencer, Gelula, & Prideaux, 2006; Steinert, McLeod, Boillat, Meterissian, Elizov, & Macdonald, 2009; Steinert, Macdonald, Boillat, Elizov, Meterissian, Razack, & McLeod, 2010; Steinert, 2010; Usmani, Rehman, Babar, & Afzal, 2012; Jones, 1995; Skiba, 2007; Taylor & Berry, 2008; Boucher, Chyka, Fitzgerald, Hak, Miller, Parker, & Gourley, 2006; Brazeau &Woodward, 2012; Draugalis, Spies, Davis, & Bolino, 2012; Guglielmo, Edwards, Franks, Naughton, Schonder, Stamm, & Popovich, 2011; Law, Jackevicius, Murray, Hess, Pham, Min, & Le, 2012; Medina, Garrison, & Brazeau, 2010; Balmer & Richards, 2012; Berbano, Browning, Pangaro, & Jackson, 2006; Ladhani, Chatwal, Vyas, Iqbal, Tan, & Diserens, 2011).
These articles (and the excessive list in the preceding paragraph is not exhaustive but a good sampling over the last ten years; these are the refereed articles about understanding the impact of faculty development activities upon faculty thinking and behavior) were helpful in a number of ways. First, I saw that these schools take faculty development seriously, fund it seriously, and evaluate it more seriously than do undergraduate institutions. Almost all the articles take an empirical approach, studying the effects of a particular innovation quite closely. The writers and the subjects are scientists, and that scientific approach is clear in the literature. That kind of rigor would be helpful in the faculty development profession in general. There are even several journals devoted solely to faculty issues in medical and health professional schools.
I conclude that first, these types of institutions recruit their faculty from professionals who are mid-career and had not considered teaching before, so teaching is new to them and they recognize their need for instructional design and delivery skills. Secondly, the stakes are much higher for these faculty members, since health and life and death are involved. The institutions also do not seem to have a problem with procuring funds, either, and the administrations of these institutions understand the value of faculty development to retain faculty. The faculty developers focus closely on the faculty’s needs; for example, a sampling of the topics will show that these researchers have studied teaching behavior in ambulatory practice (Berbano, Browning, Pagano, & Jackson, 2006); how faculty ratings vary in evaluating student case presentations (Medina, Garrison, & Brazeau, 2010); the impact of faculty development on patient care (Dieter, 2009); how to incorporate reflective practice and adult education theory into medical education (Pololi et al, 2001); and use of online role-playing (Ladhani et al, 2011). Also, these articles gave me a fuller sense of the field of higher education professional development.
Additionally, and this was relevant to me at the beginning of my study, these developers and researchers take short-and long-term assessment very seriously. This is not often the case in undergraduate faculty development. In fact, one of the few scholars who has delved carefully into this subject, Sue Hines, asserted in a 2011 article, “Faculty development is a nationwide phenomenon that emerged from the academic accountability movement in the early 1970s, yet rarely was there interest in evaluating the effectiveness of this effort—until now” (p. 1). In this next section, I will focus on the limited literature on exactly what faculty development does and accomplishes.
Hines (2009, 2011, 2012) conducted two qualitative studies of faculty development centers—the first involving institutions in Minnesota, where she resides, and the second much broader. In the second, she used the POD Network Directory to find participants (n=33). She conducted phone interviews to find out how these developers assessed the effectiveness and quality of their programs. She divided the types of assessment methods into the following: record of participation (attendance; 100% of the developers recorded this); faculty satisfaction (as noted on a post-activity survey; 100% used this method); faculty learning (as self-assessed by attendees; 97%); and impact on teaching practice (again as self-assessed, 45%). Very few used any objective means to assess the quality and impact of their services, for example, through student surveys, examination of actual teaching practice, or written/oral reflective pieces and action plans. Reasons for the use of these practices, or lack of them, was attributed by the subjects to a deficit of funds and staff to do complete assessment and lack of knowledge of how to do good assessment.
Studies similar to Hines’ are occasionally reported in the literature but in terms of individual institutions. Faculty developers who research and write focus on the impact of a specific program, initiative, or event. These articles abound and generally, although the number involved as subjects is often small (as few as a dozen, as many as 200), the examination of the results is rigorous. For example, various programs in training faculty in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) are reported in the journals. This methodology, which became widespread after Ernest Boyer’s book, Scholarship Reconsidered, was published, allows instructors to gain research credentials when they have heavy teaching loads by introducing interventions (different practices, methods) into the classroom and studying the effects (Ginns, Kitay, & Prosser, 2008; . Hubball & Burt, 2006; Kreber, 2001; Richlin & Cox, 2004; Walker, Baepler, & Cohen, 2008).
Another often touted and much researched type of faculty development activity is the faculty learning community, or their second cousins, communities of practice and communities of inquiry. Cox (2001) and Cox and Richlin (2004; 2004) and are the main advocates of learning communities. Brooks (2010) cites Cox as defining learning communities as “groups of learners who gather for learning purposes, and these communities have been conceived in numerous ways in higher education-related research” (p. 264). Furco and Moely (2012) studied the successful use of learning communities across several campuses to find their effect on faculty attitudes toward service learning initiatives. They note that these small group learning approaches are a possible way to overcome faculty resistance to change. Richlin and Cox (2004) studied the use of faculty communities to teach SoTL strategies. Riel (1998) envisions electronic learning communities as a way to avoid the excesses of “just-in-time learning,” a phenomenon which places students and technology’s instantaneous access to information at the center of education and learning. Many others have written about the use of digital formats for learning in community, as will be noted below.
Learning communities, however, may be too broad a concept. Communities of practice (CoPs) and communities of inquiry (CoIs) provide a more focused and theoretical approach to learning in community. Brooks (2010) writes, “While certainly CoPs are learning communities, they are not simply learning-focused. CoPs are instead devised for the purposes of knowledge construction among professionals; they are social structures providing an opportunity to build skills and relationships” (p. 264) across boundaries. Gallagher, Grif, Parker, Kitchen, and Figg (2011) report on a community of practice for faculty in an education department. Edge (1992a, 1992b, 2006) encourages cooperative development, a method of communication similar to action learning, for professional development in communities of learning.
Communities of inquiry are also based on a constructivist approach; its proponents Akyol and Garrison (2011) state that the framework involves the three interdependent elements of social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence, which correspond to the interpersonal climate, the phases of “practical inquiry leading to resolution of a problem or dilemma”(p. 235) and leadership of the group. The CoI model is a rich examination of discourse within a community designed for learning and co-creation of knowledge. In much of the literature about learning communities, CoPs, and CoIs, the adaptation of such models to the online environment are examined (Brooks, 2010; Akyol & Garrison, 2011a; Akyol & Garrisonb, 2011b; Akyol, Vaughan & Garrison, 2011; Edge, 2006; Johnson, 2001; Sherer, Shea, & Kristensen, 2003). Importantly, communities of inquiry seem congruent with the notion of collaborative inquiry, so vital to action research (Stringer, 2007), which is itself “a consensual approach to inquiry and works from the assumption that cooperation and consensus should be the primary orientation of research” (p. 20).
My perception of the literature on these three uses of “groups” for learning includes the following. Learning communities are a strategy for faculty development; the choice of topic under study in the learning community can be faculty-driven or may be a top-down, administratively-driven one. That usage runs contrary to what I am trying to examine in this study, which is the self-directed or autonomous learning of faculty members. CoPs have practice as their goal. The idea originated with Lave and Wenger (1991) as part of their theory of situated learning. CoPs are similar to the idea of apprenticeship; they explore how identities of participants adapt due to the community nature of learning and especially the relationship of “old-timers” and “new-comers” (Blanton & Stylianou, 2009). Chism, Sanders, and Zitlow (1987) also advocate practice-centered inquiry. While I do want faculty to practice what they learn, especially in the intervention phase, their actual practice is not really the focus of this study either; the focus is how they get to that practice, how they construct their knowledge of it, and why.
CoIs seem most pure in their goal of learning, emphasis on relationship building, and reliance on constructivism. Pardales and Girod (2006) trace the roots of the community of inquiry phenomenon to the philosopher C.S. Pierce, who was reacting to both Scholasticism and to the Cartesian insistence on mind-body split and universal doubt. Pierce also proposed that knowledge cannot be the product of one person. “This notion of people coming together to serve as jury to ideas and hypotheses is the basis for Peirce’s notion of community of inquiry” (p. 301) Pardales and Girod further explain that “A community of inquirers must have some freedom to dictate how it will operate and what it will operate on “ (p. 307), and that such a community takes a long time to develop the relationships and skills needed to test assumptions and co-create knowledge. Carstens and Howell (2012) have used inquiry-guided faculty development to inculcate that method of learning into the curriculum.
Learning communities, CoIs, and CoPs are important to this study for three reasons. First, the action research team will conceivably take on one of these labels. Second, if the action research team is, for example, a community of inquiry as opposed to a more generic learning community, that could serve as the angle for my study of their group processes, using for example Garrison, Anderson, and Archer’s model (2010). Third, one of the interventions may (and this is of course tentative) utilize one of these approaches. When we look at the theoretical framework piece to this study, it will become clear that while self-directed learning is key, “self-directed” does not necessarily mean “alone.”
This study is motivated by one particular question that has “bugged” me since I became involved in faculty development: how do we know it is working? And relatedly, what (in terms of programming) does work better? Minter ( 2009) divides faculty development centers into four categories: A (well managed, centralized, generously funded, and with a full-time director and staff members); B (part-time director who is a faculty member with a reduced teaching load, modest budget, and little empowerment); C (faculty development is the responsibility of a dean or department chairs and its relationship to strategic planning is loose); and D (the faculty member is on his or her own and there is no or next to no strategic planning involving faculty development). Minter’s argument is that colleges should adopt a more directive, hands-on, and centralized approach to professional development of its faculty, as is done in the corporate world.
Minter’s is one idea; unfortunately, as he notes, higher education follows a more “egocentric” model. The systemic challenges of higher education all make understanding what works and why it works in faculty development a challenge. Higher education’s long history, its aversion to or at least slow rate of change, its mixed messages about the primacy of teaching versus research--a very common theme in faculty development literature (“Why is research the rule,” 2000)--its payscale, its limited promotion opportunities, its promise of academic freedom (and decay thereof, another common theme), and its mission are all variables.
The challenges of understanding the effectiveness of faculty development are embodied in a telling study by Ebert-May et al (2011), one of the few that really examines on a large scale what teachers do with “faculty development knowledge.” They studied 190 science professors who attended intense summertime workshops for incorporating learning-centered approaches. While 89% self-reported that they used learner-centered methods, a videotape analysis of their classroom actions revealed that 75% used lecture-based, teacher-centered methods. Old habits die hard, of course; the researchers recommend that faculty development efforts be focused on new professors. What is more concerning is whether the faculty members were self-deceiving, generally deceptive, or simply trying to “save face.” On the other hand, Bartlett and Rappoport (2009) report on a longitudinal study of the impact of a faculty development program, with favorable results, as did Felder and Brent (2010) in relation to the long-term effects of the National Effective Teaching Institute program; this study, however, like many others, was based on self-reports of participants.
The research of Rutz, Condon, Iverson, Manduca, and Willett (2012) and Kelley-Riley (2003) also support that there is a connection between training faculty to teach critical thinking skills and the attainment of those skills in college students. What is clear from the literature is that a teacher’s approach to learning can influence the students’ approaches; in other words, an instructor who lives and models good adult learning theory and practice will influence her students to do so (Gibbs & Coffey, 2004). Light and Calkins (2008) state, “Recent studies from several different countries have shown that teachers’ conceptions of and approaches to teaching correlate strongly with both students’ deeper approaches to learning and to their learning outcomes” (p. 28).
Argyris writes about the challenges of “Teaching Smart People to Learn” (2000); faculty members, all of whom have advanced degrees, would definitely fit into the category of smart people, but that does not mean they are adept at all kinds of learning. Argyris distinguishes between single-loop and double-loop learning, and states that “most people define learning too narrowly as mere ‘problem solving,’ so they focus on identifying and correcting errors in the external environment” (p. 279). It is my contention—or at least assumption--that the typical faculty development activities, in which an outside speaker is brought in to lecture on a particular topic such as classroom civility, test construction, or diversity, is a prime example of single-loop learning, or instrumental learning to use Heifetz’s terminology (Heifetz & Linskey, 2004). The lack of classroom civility or poor test construction is seen as an environmental problem that has a solution, and of course these are to some extent. However, they are more; they are human problems that need a human solution, an “adaptive” solution, a double-loop solution where a different type of consciousness is needed. Faculty development, and assessment of its effectiveness that stops at how much the teachers use a certain technique is only telling half the story.
This is not to say that faculty developers are unaware of adult learning theory. The literature I have reviewed shows that some are immersed in it. Patricia Cranton (1994; 2001; 2002; 2006) and her colleague King (2003) have written often of using transformative learning theory in the college classroom. Cranton (1994) has also written of the general lack of a theoretical framework for faculty development; “This is not to say that promising theoretical work was not done, but it did tend to be somewhat fragmented, related to single aspects of the field” (p. 727). Roderick (2012) also defends incorporating transformational learning theory into faculty development planning, as does Swanson (2010) and Brock (2010). McQuiggan (2012) recommends a program for transformative faculty development for approaching online teaching. In my research I found only two significant articles dealing with self-direction in faculty development, which I will discuss below. I find it odd that even though the literature on self-direction in learning and on faculty development is so vast, there has been very little intersection and no real empirical study of the practice.
One area where there is a great deal of intersection between faculty development literature and that of learning theory is reflective practice. Admonitions to practice reflection abound—but is it done? And are potential reflective practitioners taught to do so, and how? Because I am only considering reflective practice as one strategy that self-direction might take, I do not want to get into a long discussion here, despite having included many articles about it in my reading, if not in this review. However, its relevance to faculty development is significant. Edwards and Thomas (2010) ask “Can reflective practice be taught?” and say “No;” despite its importance, to try to reduce it to a “prescriptive rubric of skills . . . reverts to the very technicist assumptions reflective practice was meant to exile” (p. 404).
On the other hand, writers such as Pappas (2010) prescribe a taxonomy of reflection. Others recognize that reflection, while necessary to professional development, has its own set of challenges, such as hindsight bias (Jones, 1995), lack of depth (Kember et al, 2000), and the lack of empirical evidence for the link between reflection and action (Mälkki & Lindblom-Ylänne, 2012). Further, what does reflection and reflective practice look like? Is it possible that it takes on different forms with different people, with different demands? Faculty with heavy teaching loads may need an alternative type of reflective practice. Shaw and Cole (2012), among others, suggest that reflection be a conversation rather than a mental exercise.
Yet, these conceptual problems do not deter many from still producing books and articles on how necessary and important reflection is and how it can be accomplished (Harris, Bruster, Peterson, & Shutt, 2010; Mezirow, 1998; Vos & Cowan, 2009; Winchester & Winchester, 2011). Reflection can be considered a necessary but insufficient condition for faculty development if by faculty development one means the improvement of teaching and service to the institution and/or personal or professional growth.
Because action research requires a deep understanding of the client system, I also tried to examine faculty development practices in the open-access, public college sector. Most open-access institutions are community colleges, and both four-year and two-year institutions in the open-access, state college sector demand a great deal of faculty in terms of teaching loads and service. Faculty developers in this sector face specific challenges. Resources for research would be one, as would trying to reach a variety of needs. Bendickson and Griffin (2010) recommend offering a graduate level course in the philosophy of the community college in higher education. Eddy (2007) examined faculty development at rural community colleges, which is relevant because XXX college is classified as rural (Kinkead, 2009) according to the Carnegie system.
Hardre (2012) found that community college faculty are motivated by intrinsic and value-related factors more than by extrinsic ones; this finding is also argued by Deci and Ryan (1982), who have studied motivation in all contexts, not just higher education. Faculty motivation is a key element in self-directed learning. Meixner, Kruck, and Madden (2010) and Wallin (2007) approach one of the outstanding issues for faculty development in public, open-access colleges—the inclusion of part-time teachers, who teach a large portion of the classes. Perez, McShannon, and Hines (2012) have done one of the few studies linking student achievement gains and faculty development initiatives, in the context of a community college.
Two aspects of faculty development that touch upon my study and the possible intervention that might be used are the issues of rewards for faculty development and online programming in faculty development. Hubball and Poole (2003) and Hubball and Burt (2006) advocate for a certificate to be earned through a series of faculty development activities, arguing that such a certificate, earned after a year of reflective practice and application, is a motivator for faculty. Feldman and Paulsen (1999) also address motivation, but from the perspective of creating a culture of teaching in the institution. Paluti (2012) asks if incentives work in faculty development, but assumes they do and advocates that rewards be linked to continuous improvement. Dancy, Turpen and Henderson (2010) interviewed 15 physics professor to understand their motivation for adopting a new teaching strategy and concluded that direct personal contact was the best dissemination method and that “time and effort is likely better spent focused on helping faculty implement successfully than convincing them of the need for change” (p. 120). Likewise, using online forums for faculty development holds promise; Brooks (2010) and a great deal of research she and others cite indicate that mediated environments do not inhibit collaboration in communities of practice and inquiry and in fact work well, providing added benefits over face-to-face meetings.
Finally, faculty development literature delves into the less than positive side of working with faculty. Oxenford and Kuhlenschmidt (2012) remind us that faculty can have emotional and mental health problems. Mintz (1999) agrees with the many who “have found the academy to be a dysfunctional family” (p. 32). Faculty developers often are called upon to enact a punitive or remedial role if the administration sees their job as dealing with the errant faculty. Some researchers have been more interested in how faculty development changes the faculty member’s sense of identity and self perception (Donnelly, 2008). In studying self-directed learning of faculty about their development as teachers, a researcher must be careful to appreciate what Weimer (2004) calls the highly personal and vulnerable nature of teaching. Faculty developers must also be conscious of whether a subject or seminar is best approached in an interdisciplinary manner, or whether all the faculty should stay in their departmental “silos” (Strober, 2006; Swain, 1994). Additionally, faculty developers do not work in isolation from students. Redd and Brown (2011) and Cook-Sather (2011) recommend the use of students to support faculty development. These studies are relevant because I plan to interview senior level students in this study.
This somewhat lengthy discussion of faculty development literature is intended to address the issues relevant to my study: the type of institution, the co-creation of knowledge in faculty learning groups, problems with assessing the impact of faculty development on teacher’s thinking and practice, and gaps in the use of adult learning theory in faculty development. I also desired to represent the breadth of the literature because I wanted a vantage point of understanding the scope of faculty development issues so that I could compare and contrast them to my client system.