Bridging the Research-to-Practice Gap: Designing an Institutional Change Plan Using Local Evidence

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Abstract

Background

Ample research provides evidence about the influence of effective teaching practices on student success. Yet the adoption of such practices has been slow at many institutions. Efforts to bridge the gap between research and practice are needed.

Purpose

We describe an institutional change plan we developed to bridge this research-to- practice gap. Our plan is grounded in research and theories about faculty motivation and organizational change, and we designed it using local evidence from the University of Michigan College of Engineering.

Design/Method

We collected local data from three sources to provide context for our institutional change plan. First, faculty focus groups allowed us to determine factors that influence faculty adoption of effective teaching practices. Second, classroom observations allowed us to ascertain current teaching practices. Third, a student survey allowed us to identify teaching practices perceived by students to enhance their success. We used this local evidence with a “who/what/how” decision-making process to design our change plan.

Results

Our institutional change plan for accelerating the adoption of effective teaching practices comprises a faculty action plan and an administrative change plan. Although still evolving, there is evidence of the success of both parts.

Conclusions

Local evidence is critical in our change plan. Change agents wishing to bridge the research-to-practice gap at their own institutions can design a plan that adapts our process and integrates relevant research and theory with their own local data.

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