Research has shown that instructors are aware of new learning materials and teaching strategies, but that this awareness has not led to satisfactory adoption rates. Reasons for this lack of adoption are often unique to instructors’ situational contexts; however one main reason is that instructors are typically not considered in the development of these innovations. Compounded on this is a lack of research that aims to understand these situational contexts instructors encounter adopting new curriculum. This research aims to address these issues by including instructors in the design of educational innovations and by aiding instructors during adoption to enhance and better understand the adoption process. A two-day summer workshop hosted 15 – 25 engineering instructors over the last four years to develop hands-on learning materials and corresponding teaching strategies for mechanics of materials courses. The mechanics of materials course was chosen because it is a fundamental undergraduate engineering course, extensive research has been done by the research team on student learning in this course, and to focus development and adoption efforts. After the workshop, the instructors are encouraged to adopt, adapt, and share the innovations they developed during the academic year. Subsequent workshops aimed to address issues and concerns that instructors encountered during their adoption process. After the third workshop, each instructor was assigned a change agent to work with them during their term of instruction to address these issues and concerns as they arose. Interviews were conducted with each instructor before and after their term of instruction. The first interview aimed at identifying each instructors’ goals and adoption plan and the second interview aimed to identify and understand how their adoption process went. After the first two workshops it was found that even though the instructors had been involved in the design process, they still struggled with and sometimes abandoned their adoption efforts. This was often due to management of limited resources and perceived negative consequences on student learning due to implementing new materials and strategies on limited resources. To address these issues, instructors at the third workshop wanted hands-on materials for each of their students that could be used alongside teacher demonstrations. While this helped increase the amount of resources available to each instructor, it also encouraged them to utilize the demonstrations they developed to a greater extent because each student now had a demonstration in their own hands. The instructors also expressed that regular engagement with their change agent helped keep their goals of adoption at the forefront of their mind, which made them feel more accountable. Nearly all instructors also stated that focusing development and adoption efforts on mechanics of materials improved their confidence in teaching that course and desired similar future efforts for other engineering courses. Based on the findings of this project, the researchers recommend that the most impactful ways for improving adoption are to continuously improve innovations based on instructor feedback, to continuously engage instructors during the adoption process, and to focus adoption efforts on a small scale first, such as in one course.
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