Academic change is the term being used increasingly to describe universities’ efforts to improve student success by creating optimally effective learning environments that simultaneously increase access, affordability, and quality of higher education for all those who want a postsecondary degree. Institutions are starting to see the vast potential of hybrid classrooms, shared courseware initiatives, open educational resources, competency-based education, learning analytics, and adaptive learning environments and they are seeking ways to scale and sustain these innovations. Among the positive outcomes from these change efforts have been two interesting developments. First, there appears to be an increasing number of institutions that are reconstituting their “faculty development centers” and/or “centers for teaching and learning” to help lead their organizations in transforming and advancing student success through academic innovation and improved support for students and faculty. The second recent development has been what appears to be a sharp increase in the number of senior administrative positions in academic affairs being created over the last 2-3 years to lead their institution’s academic change initiatives. These individuals hold titles such as Assistant Provost Office of Academic Innovation, Vice Provost for Innovation in Learning and Student Success, or Associate Provost for Learning Initiatives and are often filled by faculty leaders who have emerged as “change agents” among their colleagues. Individuals filling these newly constituted positions are seeking support networks and professional development opportunities. It seems we may be observing the emergence of a new, interdisciplinary “innovation infrastructure” within higher education administration. However, little is known beyond anecdotal information about how these changes are being implemented.
The purpose of the Leading Academic Change project was, therefore, to begin exploring this trend using a 3-pronged approach:
- bring together a cross-section of academic innovation leaders to begin the conversation around academic change leadership during a 2-day Leading Academic Change Summit;
- conduct Interviews with Innovative Teaching and Learning Centers to learn more about how their centers are functioning and where changes are occurring; and
- based on our findings from the Summit and our interviews, design a National Survey of Campus Centers for Teaching and Learning to explore the larger landscape.
Download report to read more about what we learned.