Stories of change: How educators change their practice

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Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE)


Mathematics and Computer Science


Innovative tools and teaching practices often fail to be adopted by educators in the field, despite evidence of their effectiveness. Nai?ve models of educational change assume this lack of adoption arises from failure to properly disseminate promising work, but evidence suggests that dissemination via publication is simply not effective. Instead of studying the adoption or rejection of a particular intervention, this paper turns the problem around. We asked educators to describe changes they had made to their teaching practice and analyzed the resulting stories to learn more about: the kinds of changes being made, their motivations for changing their practice, and the means by which they learned of pedagogical innovations. Of the 99 change stories analyzed, only three demonstrate an active search for new practices or materials on the part of teachers, and published materials were consulted in just eight of the stories. Most of the changes occurred locally, without input from outside sources, or involved only personal interaction with other educators. These results have important implications for educational developers, or researchers wishing to propagate information about new teaching materials or techniques.