Study Shows Teaching Workshops Fail to Spur Learner-centered Teaching

Diane Ebert-May, professor of plant biology, and five co-authors published an evaluation of how well professional development workshops do when teaching university professors to use active, “learner-centered” teaching methods. Their findings, published in the July 2011 issue of BioScience, call into doubt the value of the self-assessments traditionally used in education research.

The analysis found that most workshop participants knew more about active learning after the workshops and the majority reported that they were using the new methods. However, researchers analyzed video of teachers after the workshops to determine if the self-evaluations were correct and found that 75% were still using the lecture-based methods up to two years after the first workshop.

Ebert-May and her co-authors concluded that professional development education would be more effective if it provides faculty with the opportunity for direct practice. Faculty could be observed teaching, in person or by video, and given feedback immediately.

For more information, see the July 2011 issue of BioScience and the American Institute of Biological Sciences.