Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Human Resource Education

Committee Chair

Petrosko, Joseph M., 1947-

Author's Keywords

University; Faculty; Teaching; Assessment; Action research


Teaching--Methodology; Universities and colleges--Faculty--Attitudes


Conceptions of teaching and learning held by faculty in higher education broadly reflect two dominant approaches, those that are teacher-focused and content oriented, and those that are student-focused and learner oriented (Entwistle, Skinner, Entwistle & Orr, 2000). Conceptions of teaching may be reflected in the pedagogical choices and practices of instructors, but this has not been well established at college level. Thus, an examination of such conceptions may advance the understanding of good teaching at the college level (Fernandez-Balboa & Stiehl, 1995). Using a case study approach this research (a) examined conceptions of teaching and learning, assessment, and action research held by selected science faculty in higher education involved in NOVA (NASA Opportunities for Visionary Academics) funded courses, and (b) explores the relationship among conceptions and their practices. The dissertation is divided into six chapters. Chapter One provides a rationale and conceptual framework for the study, which is embedded in (a) research on the scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL), (b) research on faculty conceptions, epistemological assumptions and approaches to teaching, learning and assessment, © research on faculty conceptions of research and action research practices, and (d) research on faculty professional development. Chapter Two is a review of the literature relating to these four areas of research and educational development. Chapter Three outlines the research methodology employed. A case study approach was selected because there have been few studies of faculty conceptions and practices, particularly in depth case studies that examine the relationship among conceptions and associated practices. Chapter Four and Five present the results of the study. In Chapter Four, five detailed individual case narratives are presented, one for each of the five professors who participated in the research. The study participants ratified these as a member check to validate the findings. Chapter Five is a cross-case analysis of emerging themes and issues and reflects both common trends, as well as differences, among the cases. The cross-case analysis is related to the research questions for the study. The results show that in general conceptions of teaching and assessment are associated with practices of these phenomena. However, there are a number of interesting anomalies relating to the less well-known phenomenon of action research, and these are explored more fully. Chapter Six links the research findings with the relevant literature and draws on Bandura's social cognitive theory as an explanatory construct. Particularly, it is important to note that environmental conditions act as a third factor in reciprocal relationships with personal factors (including conceptions) and behavior (teaching practices).