Stories of change: How educators change their practice

Sally Fincher*, Brad Richards, Janet Finlay, Helen Sharp, Isobel Falconer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

12 Citations (Scopus)


Innovative tools and teaching practices often fail to be adopted by educators in the field, despite evidence of their effectiveness. Naïve models of educational change assume this lack of adoption arises from failure to properly disseminate promising work, but evidence suggests that dissemination via publication is simply not effective. Instead of studying the adoption or rejection of a particular intervention, this paper turns the problem around. We asked educators to describe changes they had made to their teaching practice and analyzed the resulting stories to learn more about: The kinds of changes being made, their motivations for changing their practice, and the means by which they learned of pedagogical innovations. Of the 99 change stories analyzed, only three demonstrate an active search for new practices or materials on the part of teachers, and published materials were consulted in just eight of the stories. Most of the changes occurred locally, without input from outside sources, or involved only personal interaction with other educators. These results have important implications for educational developers, or researchers wishing to propagate information about new teaching materials or techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2012 Frontiers in Education Conference
Subtitle of host publicationSoaring to New Heights in Engineering Education, FIE 2012 - Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012
Event42nd Annual Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2012 - Seattle, WA, United States
Duration: 3 Oct 20126 Oct 2012


Conference42nd Annual Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySeattle, WA


  • Change of practice
  • Change stories
  • Education research
  • Sharing practice


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