Individual, Family, and Community Education ETDs


Julie Sanchez

Publication Date



In recent years, there have been sizeable shifts in higher education. These shifts include more diverse student populations, advancements in pedagogy, and research progress within discipline-specific knowledge (Austin, 2002; Braxton, 2006; Gibbs & Coffey, 2004; Sunal et al, 2001; Trigwell & Prosser, 1996). These changes along with student success have motivated faculty members to make changes in their teaching practices. However, few studies have examined the process and the factors that activate this teaching transformation among individual professors. The purpose of this study was to describe the process and triggers of teaching practice change of higher education teachers. Data were collected and analyzed through qualitative techniques, specifically employing aspects of grounded theory. This study used two sources of evidence including semi-structured interviews, and demographic and background information surveys. Participants were full time faculty members at a research extensive institution who were currently teaching, tenured or tenure-track. They had multiple roles of teaching, research, and academic service, and had attended at least one faculty professional development event from the faculty development program on campus. Results revealed one major theme of relationships, which broke down into several categories: 1) student relationships, 2) colleague relationships, 3) mentor relationships, 4) institutional relationships, and 5) personal relationships. These relationships emerged as motivators or barriers to changes in university teaching. The findings of this study also illustrated smaller themes directly related to faculty members beliefs about teaching practice change, what they consider change to be, and how they experience teaching transformation. The results suggest an alignment between a professor's teaching philosophy and their beliefs about teaching practice change. They also suggest that when professors experience a negative emotion or thought about their teaching practice, it prompts improvement in their pedagogy. Lastly, contextual and individual dynamics were found as key factors that play a role in the transformative process of post-secondary teaching. This study provides a research framework to better explain the triggers and process of faculty member teaching practice change. This study verifies some of the findings from motivation, faculty professional development, and conceptual change research. Implications for faculty professional development suggest programs need to address the current shifts in student populations, belief systems that influence teaching practices, and the promotion of collaboration between faculty members and within departments that promote positive relationships.'


College teachers--Psychology, Motivation (Psychology), College teaching--Psychological aspects, College teaching--Social aspects

Document Type




Degree Name

Educational Psychology

Level of Degree


Department Name

Individual, Family, and Community Education

First Advisor

Parkes, Jay

First Committee Member (Chair)

Smith, Gary

Second Committee Member

Noll, Elizabeth

Third Committee Member

Flowerday, Terri