Impacting the teaching culture: Role of the department and the software tools

Minha R. Ha, Alidad Amirfazli


Establishing a culture of teaching excellence among faculty with limited prior instructional training raises both practical and philosophical challenges. This paper argues that the departmental unit plays a critical role in setting the conditions necessary for faculty engagement, and that multiple strategies can be coordinated to target change in the teaching norms. The paper introduces the Integrated Course Design and
Documentation (ICDD) project at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, York University. The ICDD project demonstrates several of our approaches to effecting change in individual behaviour towards studentcentered pedagogy. They include: (1) making the solution easy for the faculty; (2) making the solution a stand-alone resource that the faculty themselves can develop over time; (3) speaking the language of the faculty (relevance, contextualization); and (4) providing the social, organizational, and practical support for faculty to make the transition. Overall, we argue that any effort to create and sustain change must be multi-faceted, and must include: enabling the instructors as the key agents of change; promoting collaboration among faculty; lowering practical barriers to change by developing technical, administrative, and educational resources that are fit to the local context.

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