Postsecondary faculty members' use of learner-entered instructional methods at institutions in the United States
Keith, Caleb James
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Higher education exists to pursue and distribute knowledge. Faculty members are the primary workforce tasked with achieving this goal through their teaching, research, and service. However, postsecondary education in the United States is facing increasing levels of scrutiny and calls for accountability from various constituents. This close examination is multi-faceted, including a focus on increasing costs, scrutiny of the efficient use of institutional resources, criticism related to limited student learning, and questions about the value of postsecondary education. In response, attention has been paid to instructional practices as they relate to student learning and achievement. Some of this attention can be attributed to Boyer (1990), who advocated for the “scholarship of teaching,” stating that the very act of teaching needed to be highly valued. Soon after, Barr and Tagg (1995) suggested a shift from a teaching paradigm to a learning paradigm, essentially moving the focus of attention from the act of teaching to the active process of learning. These two works have consequently led to an increased focus on the pedagogical practices employed by faculty members to facilitate learning and achieve these particular gains. This dissertation utilizes data obtained from the 2013 administration of the HERI Faculty Survey and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to explore characteristics that influence faculty members’ use of learner-centered instructional practices in the college classroom. The study utilizes descriptive and linear regression analyses to explore the extent to which individual and institutional characteristics influence faculty members’ use of learner-centered instructional methods in their teaching practice at U.S. colleges and universities. The findings suggest that individual faculty demographic and work experience characteristics, especially age, race, sex, and discipline exert influences on the use of these teaching practices. Additionally, participation in faculty development activities demonstrates a strong relationship with the use of learner-centered instructional methods. This research makes an important contribution to the literature by expanding knowledge about faculty members’ use of learner-centered instruction through exploration of a large, national dataset and offers considerations for policy and future practice.