Changing Pedagogy: The Introduction of Experiential, Cooperative Learning and Interactive Multimedia into the Statics Learning Environment


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Virginia Tech


Teacher change is about moving from thought, feelings and an understanding of teaching and learning into action and practice (Fullan, 1982). This naturalistic case study describes the initial phases of the teacher change process resulting from the implementation of a restructured undergraduate statics engineering course. The investigation focused on the broad research question of what happens when an educator undertakes the teacher change process to allow himself to move away from what is familiar and known (i.e., the traditional pedagogy) into an unknown, new pedagogy. More specifically, the three research questions investigated by this study were : (a) what were the teacher's intentions for changing his pedagogy? (b) what were the actual teaching events over the course of the semester? (c) what were the participant's (i.e., the instructor, students, undergraduate teaching assistant and researchers) perceptions of the pedagogical change?

The collection and analysis of the data occurred simultaneously throughout the Fall semester of 1995, and continued into April 1996. Data were collected from transcribed audio recordings of interviews with the instructor, selected students and the undergraduate teaching assistant,written field notes from observations, questionnaires, electronic mail exchanges, student minute papers, and other documents. The data were summarized and coded according to recurring words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs about the instructor's intent for his change in pedagogy, then organized into categories of three change foci : (a) experiential learning, (b) cooperative learning, and (c) interactive multimedia in order to correspond with his intent for the new statics learning environment. Data were displayed in charts and tables to determine issues related to change.

The results of this study are presented in terms of a descriptive analysis of the initial teacher change process portrayed through the "multiple realities" of the participants who experienced the pedagogical change. Three issues were evident : (a) the problem of the simultaneous introduction of three new innovations (experiential, cooperative learning and the interactive multimedia), (b) the frustrations of the teacher change process, and (c) difficulties of a paradigm shift in pedagogy when the instructor commences to relinquish control in the new learning environment. Articulation of these issues helps to increase our understanding of the teacher change process and the need to enact change over time. Moreover, lessons learned from this study can serve as guidelines for future researchers in their efforts to study the change process. This study increases our understanding of the teacher change process particularly when one undertakes a paradigm shift in pedagogy.



Engineering Education