Changing Instructional Culture by Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning Michael Dennin

Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning Michael Dennin details our changing instructional culture and how an interconnected approach could provide a model for transformation in higher education in a new article, Changing Instructional Culture: The Sum is Greater Than Its Parts.

In the article, Dennin explains the three main values that guide UCI’s approach to instructional culture are:

  • Broader standards do not mean lower standards
  • People and structures matter
  • Data matters

The paper highlights efforts that directly or indirectly impact changes in the faculty/instructional culture, and how the sum of these contributions creates a larger impact than any individual effort, including:

  • Administrative Infrastructure. Change in this area involves both the relevant administrative positions and specific policies and approaches of the leadership in those positions. A few elements of these changes at the campus level include the creation of a Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, and the Division of Career pathways, which all foster and reward culture change.
  • Physical Infrastructure. A well-established element of the campus that continues to evolve by building student success oriented infrastructures that highlight the campus commitment to undergraduate research, scholarship opportunities and an Honors experience. The goal is to create a truly inclusive environment that integrates student wellness, career planning and instructional support and enhance the overall student experience.
  • Instructional Support. The development of new instructional support initiatives programs has a direct impact on cultural change. The creation of the Learning Assistant Program, Active Learning Institute, Faculty Learning Communities, and Online Course Development is in part with the new evidence-based instructional culture and the new administrative structure.
  • Faculty Merit. With a focus on rewards for teaching implements the transformation vision on instructional culture change. Instead of reviewing “bad teaching,” the university has refocused on rewarding excellent teaching to motivate and push to develop best practices.
  • Visible Pedagogy Research/Experts. Embedding pedagogical experts within a department has successfully driven culture shifts around teaching. The unique blend of professors of teaching and a robust partnership between OVPTL and the School of Education has reached a critical mass of evidenced-based practices.
  • Direct Student Support. Direct student support is a critical aspect of student success by enhancing faculty involvement in ways that continue to raise awareness of issues of inclusion and culture in the classroom. This brings faculty into direct contact with evidenced-based writing instruction and issues of inclusivity in the classroom.
  • Data.Faculty have reformed classroom culture based on the data that COMPASS has made available. With information on the statistics such as the change of majors and gaps in retention within a major, faculty can assess classroom and department cultures for student access.
  • Academic Advising. The creation of this position has allowed faculty to review advising policies and their implementation across campus. This creates a closer dialogue between advising and instruction in a way that will only serve to benefit our diverse student population.

Read the full article and watch the video overview here