Staff and students in struggle: help to reform

Paul Greatrix, Registrar at The University of Nottingham, recently wrote a thought provoking article in the WonkHE blogsite reviewing Derek Bok’s 2017 book “ The Struggle to Reform Our Colleges” which focuses on why efforts to improve American higher educational attainment haven’t worked.

Bok’s book has some thoughtful comments including:

“Few undergraduates today are clamouring for … innovative methods of instruction…. “

However it was Paul Greatrix’s concluding remarks which I felt was most revealing.

“Universities are simply not very good at reforming their teaching and adopting positive innovations in education. Even where good ideas are tried and tested and demonstrated to be effective in enhancing learning, widespread adoption is difficult to achieve, largely because of the highly decentralised nature of institutions, the autonomy of teachers and the absence of incentives to change.”

So much of what challenges universities to enhance their teaching and learning methods for blended delivery seems to come from outside. However, this comment acknowledges that the most challenging barriers to uptake come from inside the institution. What can help address this is a change-catalysing partner. Someone impartial, who can shift entrenched cultural attitudes by referencing actual working best-practices outside. Someone like CAPDM, with twenty years of experience and success at doing this for multiple institutions.

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