This paper reports on the creation of a canvas tool to promote and sustain faculty teaching innovations. The tool is being developed as part of a research project that is funded by the NSF “Revolutionizing Engineering and Computer Science Departments” (RED) program. The project has an overall aim to propagate a culture of pedagogical risk-taking and realize an additive innovation mindset to promote sharing among engineering faculty at a large, southwestern public university. A specific sub-goal is to understand how faculty development programs and initiatives can influence faculty teaching practices using a modified version of the Business Model Canvas (BMC). The BMC is an organizational tool for capturing and communicating the critical elements of an entrepreneurial-focused ecosystem. It is used to identify the necessary infrastructure that would support a new venture, with a focus on specifying the value propositions for specific customer segments. The local RED project has adapted the BMC to determine the educational ecosystem that would assist, motivate, and engage faculty in pedagogical risk-taking. In our case, the customer segments are engineering faculty, and the value propositions emanate from their stated goals. The adapted canvas documents administrative policies, structures, and other motivators that make a sustained and scalable culture of faculty pedagogical risk-taking possible.
The research team’s adaptation of the BMC was informed by a retrospective analysis of a faculty intervention piloted by the local RED project. Faculty were provided a forum to self-form working groups around areas of shared interest in the undergraduate engineering program. Groups met and worked throughout the 2016-2017, and in some cases, the 2017-2018 academic year, with support provided by the RED project in the form of funding, recognition, and time during faculty meetings to share updates and work in their teams. Four groups emerged, including one focused on enhancing student learning in math-intensive courses and another on aligning student outcomes across the program’s design project spine. In fall 2018, the research team interviewed seven faculty members from these two groups about their reasons for participating and their experiences as members. Each interview was approximately 45 minutes long, conducted in-person, recorded, and transcribed. The interviews were analyzed using a priori codes corresponding to faculty members’ motivations and desired impact, as well as the key partners, resources, and activities that faculty identified for their change effort. Group accounts were constructed from the interviews and used to create a common “Faculty Innovation Canvas” template. Comparison of the two groups using the template showed that even when faculty interest is high, differences in composition and needs may lead to differences in group functionality. For example, the presence or absence of a clear goal and champion may help to explain why one group was more participatory than the other. Individual faculty members’ level of experience with utilizing internal or external resources appeared to impact group progress as well. Further conclusions from the canvas adaptation process will be shared in the full paper. Lessons learned about how to affect real and substantive faculty-initiated change will also be discussed.
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