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January-February 2012

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Why Does the Faculty Resist Change?

The provost of a large state university was describing initiatives his campus had underway to promote student learning. He stopped in mid-sentence, raised both hands in a gesture of frustration and said, “Here's my problem: How can I get my faculty to go along? It seems that every new idea starts a war! We have some folks who aren't willing to do anything differently.”

I have heard variations on that complaint many times, and not only from administrators. Faculty members who led change initiatives often express frustration at the roadblocks created by other faculty members or groups. In 2009 George Kuh and Stanley Ikenberry undertook a survey of provosts for the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment to explore the state of student learning assessment. They found that “Gaining faculty involvement and support remains a major challenge… .” Sixty-six percent of provosts at all institutions said more faculty engagement would be helpful, and “about four-fifths of provosts at doctoral research universities reported greater faculty engagement as their number one challenge” (p. 24). Some hear from the chorus of the faculty the famous refrain of Groucho Marx (playing the role, interestingly, of a college president) in Horsefeathers:

I don't care what you have to say

It makes no difference anyway!

Whatever it is, I'm against it!

To make substantial improvements in colleges and universities, we need to understand and address the sources of faculty resistance.


A major critique of higher education, going back at least to the 1970s, is aptly summarized by cognitive psychologists Diane Halpern of Claremont McKenna College and Milton Hakel of Bowling Green State University (2002): “It would be difficult to design an educational model that is more at odds with current research on human cognition than the one that is used at most colleges and universities” (p. 4). Yet many faculty members seem unaware of this research or resist giving it serious attention. As Derek Bok, president emeritus of Harvard, has put it, “No faculty ever forced its leaders out for failing to act vigorously enough to improve the prevailing methods of education. On the contrary, faculties are more likely to resist any determined effort to examine their work and question familiar ways of teaching and learning” (2006, p. 334).

Charles Muscatine, professor emeritus of English at the University of California at Berkeley, in his 2009 book Fixing College Education: A New Curriculum for the Twenty-first Century, describes his own efforts in the 1970s to sustain Strawberry Creek College at Berkeley, a wonderfully innovative program for undergraduates. Strawberry Creek was terminated by a faculty committee because of concerns about “educational quality.” But in the long process of review, he notes, “No faculty group, to my knowledge, had ever attempted to determine the actual ‘quality’ of the courses in the regular academic program, against which the quality of unconventional courses might be judged” (p. 35—italics in original). This double standard, in which quality only becomes a question when contemplating change and no comparative evidence ever emerges, is widespread in discussions of curriculum and pedagogy.

From the reformers' perspective, the key question for teachers should be how they can help students to learn better. While this will strike most people outside the academy as so obvious as to be innocuous, it raises the defensive hackles of some inside. Mary Burgan, formerly general secretary of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) suggests—in her 2006 book What Ever Happened to the Faculty?—that

the most general effect of the reformist program for higher education pedagogy has been an emphasis on the word “learning” in all talk about pedagogy. An insistence on this term is so obligatory as to have become politically correct in educational circles, where “teaching” is seldom mentioned without being yoked to “learning.” (p. 28)

And how does this persistent yoking strike the faculty, in Burgan's view? “Far from creating a balance in pedagogy, … such a semantic move radiates a sense that individual faculty are inveterate hams or gasbags” (p. 28).

Does the very use of the word “learning” in the context of education create defensiveness in teachers? While it is not at all the case that most faculty members are “hams or gasbags,” it appears that the fear of being so caricatured has raised a defensive shield that seems to insulate some faculty from argument. “Though the ideas have been out there for decades,” says Muscatine, “on a national scale our progress has been very slow. We will not by any means get substantial educational reform until we confront the faculties themselves” (p. 97).


To understand faculty members' resistance, we should begin with the assumption that they are making their way through the challenges of daily life with the same strengths and weaknesses that most people exhibit. I am urging that we avoid the fundamental attribution error and look first to the structure of the work rather than the personalities of the workers for the source of the resistance to change.

So how do most people think about changes in their lives? Most changes are like the weather: they just happen to us. What we are addressing here is designed change, alteration of the rules of the game for a purpose, the intentional introduction of novel processes or activities into our lives.


What are the normal inclinations of people when confronted with risky choices? For much of the last century, the governing orthodoxy concerning decision making was John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern's expected utility theory. One of its central tenets was the invariance principle, which held that for a rational chooser it would make no difference how the alternatives were presented; only the probability of the optimum outcome would matter.

The theory was designed as a guide for making optimal decisions, not a description of the way people actually make decisions. But it increasingly appeared that the gap between the rational ideal and behavioral reality was great indeed, as psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky discovered when they conducted experiments with alternative versions of choices—purchases, gambles, and exchanges—and developed their Nobel-Prize-winning prospect theory, a “descriptive analysis … concerned with people's beliefs and preferences as they are, not as they should be” (p. 1).

In making choices, they found, most of us do not follow the invariance principle—which, they concluded, “is normatively essential, intuitively compelling, and psychologically unfeasible” (2000, p. 6). Indeed, we don't even seek the optimum choice in most cases; we seek value, which we subjectively conceive as a gain or the avoidance of a loss, measured from some reference point or anchor.


Far from making the same decision irrespective of the way the choice is presented, we are strongly influenced by the way the outcomes are framed. As early as the 1960s, commentators noticed that public opinion polls on the same issue elicited contradictory answers, depending on how the questions were worded. Thus, most people were for and against legal abortion, depending on how the question was presented.

Kahneman and Tversky (2000) explored the framing phenomenon with special attention to the element of risk. One of their studies introduced a choice with this background information:

Imagine that the U.S. is preparing for the outbreak of an unusual Asian disease, which is expected to kill 600 people. Two alternative programs have been proposed. Assume that the exact scientific estimates of the consequences of the programs are as follows.

They then gave two sets of subjects two different pairs of alternatives that were logically identical but framed differently. In the first version the alternatives were as follows:

If Program A is adopted, 200 people will be saved. If Program B is adopted, there is a one-third probability that 600 people will be saved and a two-thirds probability that no people will be saved.

In the second version the identical outcome was described, but the alternatives were framed, in terms not of the number of people saved, but of the number of people who would die:

If Program C is adopted, 400 people will die. If Program D is adopted, there is a one-third probability that nobody will die and a two-thirds probability that 600 people will die.

In both versions, the same number of people live and die, and invariance would dictate that we respond the same way to both. In both versions, the first alternative is an assured, small gain while the second is a risk taken for a chance of a larger gain.

But in the first version, where the outcome is described in terms of people saved, the vast majority (72 percent) chose Program A, the sure thing, over Program B—taking a risk for a greater gain (28 percent). In the second version, where the outcome is described in terms of people who die, 22 percent chose Program C and 78 percent Program D—the opposite result. When the choice was presented in terms of a gain (people “saved”), respondents were risk-averse—they took the sure thing over the gamble. When it was presented in terms of loss (people “die”) they became risk-seeking. Furthermore, as Kahneman and Tversky concluded,

The failure of invariance is both pervasive and robust. It is as common among sophisticated respondents as among naïve ones, and it is not eliminated even when the same respondents answer both questions within a few minutes. Respondents confronted with their conflicting answers are typically puzzled. Even after rereading the problems they still wish to be risk averse in the “lives saved” version; they wish to be risk seeking in the “lives lost” version; and they also wish to obey invariance and give consistent answers in the two versions. In their stubborn appeal, framing effects resemble perceptual illusions more than computational errors. (p. 5)

Most people view risky situations through a decidedly imperfect lens, with a powerful bias that causes them to take much greater risks to avoid a loss than to achieve a gain.


Loss aversion has some interesting corollaries. University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler (1980) reasoned that if we will not take as big a risk to gain what we don't have as to keep what we do have, that implies that we see what we already have as more valuable. Thaler called this the endowment effect: My things gain value just by virtue of being mine. Tested by now in a variety of settings, this explains, for example, why people in betting studies are risk averse even when you give them “new” money to bet with: once they have been given the money, it has entered their endowment and hence becomes more valuable to them.

Dan Ariely, professor of behavioral economics at Duke University, and his colleague Ziv Carmon conducted a creative study of this phenomenon. At Duke, basketball is a popular sport, but the stadium is relatively small. Students who want tickets for a big game must camp out in tents in front of the stadium, sometimes for days or weeks, to be at the head of the line when tickets go on sale.

For games in great demand, even this doesn't guarantee tickets: Students in the line receive a lottery number, and the ticket winners are chosen by lot. So those who get into the lottery have made a considerable investment to get that far, and they place a high value on the tickets.

In the spring of 1994, Ariely and Carmon called the students in the lottery and told the winners that they had a chance to make some money by selling their tickets and the losers that they had a chance to buy one, asking each how much they would pay or how much they would accept for the transaction. Ariely describes the outcome in his book Predictably Irrational (2008):

What was really surprising… was that in all our phone calls, not a single person was willing to sell a ticket at a price that someone else was willing to pay.… We had a group of students all hungry for a basketball ticket before the lottery drawing; and then, bang—in an instant after the drawing, they were divided into two groups—ticket owners and non-ticket owners. It was an emotional chasm that was formed, between those who now imagined the glory of the game, and those who imagined what else they could buy with the price of the ticket. And it was an empirical chasm as well—the average selling price (about 2,400) was separated by a factor of about 14 from the average buyer's offer (about 175). (pp. 132–133)

The endowment effect explains, for example, why companies that offer a “money-back guarantee” on a product or a “30-day free trial” seldom pay out much for returned products. Once the customer owns the product, it becomes more valuable.

And as Ariely points out, an endowment can be virtual: “We can begin to feel ownership even before we own something” (p. 135). Much advertising is aimed at creating virtual ownership, which will lead to purchase. The shoppers who have set their hearts on an item, especially one with a heavy emotional load such as a car or a house, often begin to speak of it as “mine” or “ours” before any money has changed hands.

Furthermore, the sense of endowment does not stop with physical property. We can “own” an idea as well as an object. Thus, the confirmation bias acts like the endowment effect. I read the newspaper columns or blogs that confirm my existing ideas, which I know to be more valuable than those that compete with them.


Loss aversion and the endowment effect add up to the status quo bias, a pervasive preference for leaving things as they are. As Kahneman and Tversky said of framing effects, this bias is more like a perceptual illusion than a computational error. Here we have evidence from a study of college and university faculty. Thaler and Cass Sunstein (2008) describe a study of TIAA-CREF, which handles the retirement plans of many college and university professors. The study found that

But if it comes, and it always does, to a weighing of gains versus losses, loss aversion and the endowment effect will keep a thumb on the scale, leading losses to outweigh gains.

the median number of changes in the asset allocation of the lifetime of a professor was, believe it or not, zero. In other words, over the course of their careers, more than half of the participants made exactly no changes to the way their contributions were being allocated. Perhaps even more telling, many married participants who were single when they joined the plan still have their mothers listed as their beneficiaries! (pp. 34–35)

During the 1980s, Harvard University increased the number of health insurance plans to eight, giving employees a chance to change plans if they chose to do so. William Samuelson of Boston University and Richard Zeckhauser of Harvard (1988) examined the pattern of choices and found that there was a considerable shift in the participation in various plans. But when they separated new employees (who had to make an affirmative choice of a plan when they came to work) from continuing employees, they found that “old enrollees persist in electing the incumbent plan… much more frequently than do new enrollees” (p. 31).

Why is the status quo bias so powerful? Samuelson and Zeckhauser theorized that it is often an effort to resolve cognitive dissonance, especially in terms of one's own worth as a decision maker:

With his or her self-image as a serious and able decision maker comes a need to justify current and past decisions, whether or not they proved successful. Past choices are rationalized, and the rationalization process extends to current and future choices. Thus, an individual tends to discard or mentally suppress information that indicates a past decision was in error (since such information would conflict with his or her self-image as a good decision maker). (p. 39)

The status quo bias is a pervasive bias against designed change. And the evidence indicates that it applies at least as powerfully to college professors as to any other segment of the population.


Changes in pedagogy and curriculum are offered as a way of making gains in student learning. But if it comes, and it always does, to a weighing of gains versus losses, loss aversion and the endowment effect will keep a thumb on the scale, leading losses to outweigh gains. So what does the faculty member potentially have to lose in this transaction?

The most obvious endowment is money—the salary and other monetary rewards a faculty member receives for doing his or her job. But whether or not salary is implicated in curricular or pedagogical change, the virtual or immaterial endowments that are connected with monetary rewards will be. Higher salaries, raises, stipends, grants, and the like are emblematic of the prestige or self-worth connected to expertise, ability, and accomplishment.

What activities generate the faculty endowment? James Fairweather of The Pennsylvania State University studied nationwide faculty salary and work patterns for his 1996 book Faculty Work and Public Trust. He found that “regardless of institutional type or mission and irrespective of program area, faculty who spend more time on research and who publish the most are paid more than their teaching-oriented colleagues” (p. 67).

Indeed, the valuation of research over teaching begins even before faculty members enter upon faculty careers. In the training of graduate students, “faculty mentors are likely to emphasize research over teaching. Hence, socialization into the role of faculty member has an inherent orientation toward research” (p. 44). Fairweather reported that studies of faculty attitudes “found that faculty perceived their rewards to be dependent on research, not teaching, including faculty from institutions with a strong emphasis historically on teaching” (p. 46).

One of the most treasured endowments of college and university faculty, of course, is tenure. And like a product that we've set our hearts on but can't yet afford, tenure enters the virtual endowment of nearly all faculty members for whom it is conceivably within reach—and many for whom it isn't.

Most faculty members see tenure as linked strongly to research and linked weakly, if at all, to teaching. Jack Schuster of the Claremont Graduate School and Martin Finkelstein of Seton Hall University reviewed faculty survey results and other research for the past several decades in their 2006 book The American Faculty. They found that “the proportion of faculty agreeing that it is difficult to attain tenure without research or publications rose steadily from about two in five (39.9 percent) in 1969 to nearly two-thirds (65 percent) by 1997” (p. 129).

Because time and resources for research become, in the faculty mind, generators of highly valued endowments—money, privilege, prestige, promotions, and tenure—research time itself becomes an endowment. Schuster and Finkelstein found that by the 1990s, “faculty members almost universally expressed a desire to shift some portion of their time from teaching to research” (p. 87). “Teaching load,” for most faculty members, is not a dead metaphor. Time spent on teaching is itself seen as a loss rather than a gain, a burden to be carried in order to pay for the research-time endowment.

Changing the Endowments

At many institutions the only routes to tenure, advancement, and recognition are through research accomplishments. Recognizing this, the University of Michigan established the Thurnau Professors program specifically to recognize faculty for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education. Similarly, George Mason University established the Robinson Scholars program to recognize “outstanding scholars who are dedicated to undergraduate teaching,” according to the university webpage.

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) can alter the reward system if credit is given to faculty for research that bears fruit in pedagogy and curriculum design. But this only changes the faculty endowment if institutions recognize SoTL as genuinely valuable research. In the 2004 survey of participants in the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CASTL), only 35 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “The criteria for tenure decisions at my institution reflect the principles of the scholarship of teaching and learning” (Huber & Hutchings, 2005, p. 145). But those institutions where the 4 percent who strongly agreed work may be changing faculty endowments in a significant way.


At most colleges and universities, units of the organization and individuals acting within them have great autonomy. And the key units for faculty are academic departments. As Fairweather (1996) points out,

Academic organization and faculty reward structures are based on discipline-oriented departments. Department chairs often see themselves as preservers of the discipline, ensuring that dominant mores continue. In the modern college and university, valued faculty behaviors focus on research and publication and on minimizing the time devoted to undergraduate instruction. The very structure which ensures maintenance of the disciplines works against faculty involvement in teaching and learning and against developing a more successful undergraduate curriculum. (p. 105)

Fairweather conducted a case study of a coalition of seven institutions that sought to improve curriculum and pedagogy in their engineering departments. In surveys and interviews, he found that “faculty believe that assistant professors who devote time to teaching and curricular reform are at risk. Department chairs consistently warned assistant professors to stay out of coalition activities in spite of the commitment by deans” (p. 104).

In the loosely coupled structure of the university, the department usually becomes the depository of the faculty member's endowment. Departments play a central role in hiring new faculty and deciding who is promoted and who receives tenure. Furthermore, especially at large institutions, the department is the only place where faculty have a sense of control over institutional processes. Schuster and Finkelstein (2006) noted there is “a strong and consistent pattern of about two of every three faculty members perceiving a high level of influence on their department. At the same time, many fewer faculty (15 percent to 20 percent) report wielding high levels of influence over campuswide affairs” (p. 105).

Creating Collaborative Venues Outside the Department

Miami University of Ohio has been a leader in developing faculty learning communities. Milton Cox (2006), director of the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching at Miami, describes them as “multi-disciplinary groups of 6–15 members. … They work collaboratively on nine-month, scholarly programs to enhance teaching and learning” (p. 92). He reports that

the learning communities built high levels of trust through participative decision-making. The ensuing sense of community and the scholarship of teaching and learning provided the social dynamics and the intellectual linkage between theory and practice for successful change management. The capacity-building inherent in learning communities fed off itself because successful graduates of the program are now facilitators of subsequent learning communities. (p. 97)

When it comes to teaching, most faculty lack either credible expertise, respected credentials, common standards, or a framework of meaningful review; thus they see pedagogical improvement as a morass in which gains would be invisible if achieved and in which they can only lose time, money, and energy through vaguely configured efforts that create no enduring value. So the department preserves the individual space of the faculty member to teach unobserved and unmolested.

But what of community colleges and others where faculty have no research responsibilities? While there is little or no pressure on faculty at these institutions to do research, the organizational structure is usually the same: Faculty are hired, promoted, and granted tenure through discipline- or skill-based departments. And the system of recognition and reward in the community college, like that in the university, is based on individual accomplishment as mediated by the department. So the autonomy survives without the research. Thus the privacy and individualism of teaching at most community colleges creates an environment in which autonomy itself becomes a reward, a form of control, an endowment.

W. Norton Grubb and associates from the University of California at Berkeley observed hundreds of classes and interviewed dozens of teachers at twenty-four community colleges throughout the country for their book Honored but Invisible: An Inside Look at Teaching in Community Colleges (1999). They found that

a defining aspect of instructors' lives in community colleges is their isolation. Except in a small number of exemplary institutions, most instructors speak of their lives and work as individual, isolated, lonely. A teacher's job is a series of classes, with the door metaphorically if not literally closed. Some faculty view isolation as an inherent part of teaching: “Teaching is a very individualistic endeavor, and people are often secretive and unwilling to seek out or utilize a different approach.” (p. 49)

In the absence of clear standards, in an isolated environment where the work is not seriously examined and its consequences are essentially unknown, the privacy of the classroom becomes the means of control and the personal entitlement of the teacher.

The structure of faculty work virtually assures that proposals to significantly improve teaching and learning will appear to threaten important faculty endowments: research time, recognition for hard-earned expertise, the privacy of teaching, the security of tenure, the predictability of promotion and perquisites, the safety of the status quo. Most faculty, when they hear of proposals for serious educational change, fear loss, even if they cannot articulate exactly what they might lose. And because they are, after all, highly educated and articulate, they will need to resolve the cognitive dissonance, to rationalize the fear by providing arguments against or distractions from the proposals.

As Muscatine points out, there is a double standard at work: The question of quality comes up only with respect to proposed changes but rarely in terms of existing practices. That is because existing practices create no cognitive dissonance and require no rationalization. The status quo bias ensures that we simply assume the viability of the status quo. In the case of change, however, people begin to marshal arguments. Engaging in those arguments will avail us little unless we address the loss aversion and endowment defenses that drive many faculty members' reactions to change.


Max Planck, the originator of quantum theory in physics, wrote in his autobiography that “a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it” (qtd. in Samuelson & Zeckhauser, p. 47). Will it be thus with colleges and universities?

The tenure-track or tenured full-time faculty I have been discussing are now a minority of the teaching staff in higher education. But at most traditional institutions, the shrinking minority of tenure-eligible faculty still have great influence on institutional policy. Can these immovable objects be moved?

Consider a scenario that has played itself out on many campuses. A task force is appointed to address some challenge. The members of the group work together for months, reading the same materials and attending conferences or inviting in speakers. They discuss the problem and eventually produce a consensus proposal. They then present this proposal to the larger campus community.

I doubt I need to tell you what generally happens at this point. “The faculty” (a group that tends to be defined by those who speak first and most vigorously) raises objections—sometimes procedural, sometimes substantive, often both. The members of the group proposing the change are often incensed at the fact that the objectors just don't get it and seem to be ignoring all of their hard work and superior arguments. The objectors often doubt the motives of the proposers and suggest that there is some administrative hand or ulterior motive behind the scenes. The opponents find themselves arguing past each other, often with an increasingly adhominem tone. Most faculty who are not directly engaged in the dispute find the whole business distasteful and an unwelcome distraction from their real work. And so it goes.

I raise this scenario to point out an interesting contrast: that between the faculty members on the task force and those in the opposition. It is faculty on both sides. But one group is advocating a change while the other is opposing it. What's the difference?

The opponents we can easily explain. In the face of a proposal for change, loss aversion makes them resist what they see as threats to their endowment. It is often those with the most invested in the threatened endowment who move most quickly to the fore to defend the status quo. The threat of loss triggers a willingness to take risks, to stick their necks out, in order to prevent the loss. Having “seen” the danger, they rationalize their opposition and increasingly consider those who don't see it to be irrational. The confirmation bias, which feeds conspiracy theories, reinforces defensive reactions.

We should note here that the proposal may have been a genuinely awful idea, and the opponents may have the substantive evidence on their side. The point is that this dynamic can play itself out whether the ideas in question are good or bad, right or wrong, because it is happening at a different level, independent of the substantive virtue of the ideas being debated. That is one reason why outsiders often find such debates puerile and pointless.

But what of the advocates of the idea? Why is their behavior just the opposite of what we would expect? Instead of reacting defensively to a new idea, they are vigorously advocating for it.

Involving Faculty in the Design of Change

In their 2000 book Learning That Lasts, Marcia Mentkow ski and associates descreibe the Alverno College involved faculty while becoming one of the most innovative and forward-looking institution in the country:

As Alverno College underwent chanage toward outcome-based teaching and learning …, it was critical ti have structured opportunities in which educators could talk in depth. To this end, college-wide institutes were held three times a year and faculty meetings in various configurations convened every Friday afternoon. These forums still continue and provide regulat sessions for discussing issues of teaching and learning and for exploring teaching practices and roles. (p. 269)

How does that happen? Something changed during the months of meetings and discussion.

What occurred was something like this. They were presented, not with a fully formed idea to change the institution but with a mass of information; they had to come up with a way to make sense of it, an interpretation of the information that could allow them to respond to it. They had to interpret it in a way that allowed them to resolve the cognitive dissonance it created.

Through the discussion and evidence-collection process, the group, as the saying goes, “took ownership” of their interpretation. That is, the interpretation of the data and the plan they developed to address it became a part of their virtual endowment—like the house you want to buy but haven't signed the papers for yet.

Thus the members of the task force had redesigned their status quo. It became “our” problem, then “our” interpretation, then “our” plan. For them, the failure to adopt the plan would be a loss. Their valued endowment lived in the achievable future, not in the past, so loss aversion moved them to vigorously defend the change. And if the plan were defeated, they would feel the loss personally and deeply.

So it is possible to reconfigure the endowment in order to get things done; people do it all the time. It is what always happens when successful, designed change occurs on a large scale: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” “We hold these truths to be self-evident… .” “I have a dream!” At a more mundane level, all the advertisers who make you yearn for their products show you what your life will be like with those products, and you find even before you own them that you can't give them up.

How can we create an endowment in a better future for faculty who now fear losing what they have in the present?

A few suggestions for institutions that want to design change:

  • Stop creating strong anti-change endowments. The linking of hiring, promotion, and tenure to disciplinary research creates an endowment that undervalues teaching and learning and deters faculty commitment to change.

  • Link faculty endowments to collaborative work instead of only to individual work. If all the significant rewards are accessible only to faculty acting as individuals in private, then collaborative work with other faculty will seem a loss rather than a gain.

  • Create structures through which large numbers of faculty can design the change. Just as the task force that works together on a plan comes to create an endowment in the future, so can others if they are engaged in defining and shaping that endowment.

  • Establish channels outside of academic departments through which faculty members can build their endowments. Departments as presently configured reinforce the priority of specialized research and faculty privacy and autonomy. If they are the only avenues for faculty development and endowment, they will create rigidity and resistance.

The key to designing and executing productive institutional change is not simply to build a better academic mousetrap. Faculty will not beat a path to the doors of those with the best arguments. We need to not only design change for our institutions but redesign our institutions for change. At base, we must recognize that we can't change without changing. We cannot create a better future unless we are willing to embrace a future that is different from the past.


1. Ariely, D. (2008) Predictably irrational: The hidden forces that shape our decisions., HarperCollins., New York, NY.

2. Bok, D. (2006) Our underachieving colleges: A candid look at how much students learn and why they should be learning more., Princeton University Press., Princeton, NJ.

3. Burgan, M. (2006) Whatever happened to the faculty? Drift and decision in higher education., Johns Hopkins University Press., Baltimore, MD.

4. Cox, M. D. Hunt, L., Bromage, A. and Tomkinson, B. (eds) (2006) Phases in the development of a change model.. The realities of change in higher education, pp. 91-100. Routledge., New York, NY.

5. Fairweather, J. S. (1996) Faculty work and public trust: Restoring the value of teaching and public service in American academic life, Allyn and Bacon., Boston, MA.

6. Grubb, W. N., Worthen, H., Byrd, B., Webb, E., Badway, N., Case, C., Goto, S. and Villeneuve, J. C. (1999) Honored but invisible: An inside look at teaching in community colleges., Routledge., New York, NY.

7. Halpern, D. F. and Hakel, M. (2003) Applying the science of learning to the university and beyond: Teaching for long-term retention and transfer. Change 35:4, pp. 36-41.

8. Huber, M. and Hutchings, P. (2005) The advancement of learning: Building the teaching commons, Jossey-Bass., San Francisco, CA.

9. Kahneman, D. and Tversky, A. Kahneman, D. and Tversky, A. (eds) (2000) Choices, values, and frames.. Choices, values, and frames, pp. 1-16. Russell Sage Foundation/Cambridge University Press., New York, NY.

10. Kuh, G. and Ikenberry, S. (October 2009) More than you think, less than we need: Learning outcomes assessment in American higher education, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.Retrieved from

11. Mentkowski M., & Associates (2000) Learning that lasts: Integrating learning, development, and performance in college and beyond, Jossey-Bass., San Francisco, CA.

12. Muscatine, C. Fixing college education: A new curriculum for the twenty-first century., University of Virginia Press., Charlottesville, VA.

13. Schuster, J. H. and Finkelstein, M. J. (2006) The American faculty: The restructuring of academic work and careers., Johns Hopkins University Press., Baltimore, MD.

14. Thaler, R. (1980) Toward a positive theory of consumer choice. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 1, pp. 39-60.

15. Thaler, R. and Sunstein, C. R. (2008) Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness., Yale University Press., New, CT.

John Tagg is an independent writer, consultant, and author of The Learning Paradigm College (Jossey-Bass, 2003). The focus of his current research is organizational change in the service of student learning. He is professor emeritus of English at Palomar College.

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