• teacher change;
  • science education;
  • higher education;
  • pedagogy;
  • professional development


This article reviews current scholarship about how to promote change in instructional practices used in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses. The review is based on 191 conceptual and empirical journal articles published between 1995 and 2008. Four broad categories of change strategies were developed to capture core differences within this body of literature: disseminating curriculum and pedagogy, developing reflective teachers, enacting policy, and developing shared vision. STEM education researchers largely write about change in terms of disseminating curriculum and pedagogy. Faculty development researchers largely write about change in terms of developing reflective teachers. Higher education researchers largely write about change in terms of enacting policy. New work often does not build on prior empirical or theoretical work. Although most articles claim success of the change strategy studied, evidence presented to support these claims is typically not strong. For example, only 21% of articles that studied implementation of a change strategy were categorized as presenting strong evidence to support claims of success or failure of the strategy. These analyses suggest that the state of change strategies and the study of change strategies are weak, and that research communities that study and enact change are largely isolated from one-another. In spite of the weak state of the literature, some conclusions related to the design of change strategies can be drawn from this review. Two commonly used change strategies are clearly not effective: developing and testing “best practice” curricular materials and then making these materials available to other faculty and “top-down” policy-making meant to influence instructional practices. Effective change strategies: are aligned with or seek to change the beliefs of the individuals involved; involve long-term interventions, lasting at least one semester; require understanding a college or university as a complex system and designing a strategy that is compatible with this system. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 48: 952–984, 2011