An assessment of applying adult learning theories and practices in faculty professional development programs
This study examines the effect of using strategies appealing to adults when delivering faculty professional development for instructional improvement. Two areas of literature were examined, then brought together to inform the research. Adult learning theories and faculty development programs were individually reviewed. The few writings that bring these topics together were explored, and the concepts uncovered were compared to the individual reviews. Several instances where the topics come together implicitly are highlighted in the literature review. This review provided the basis for this study. The Center for Teaching and Learning at Montgomery College (CTL) was identified and used as the study sight. (The researcher is employed at this College) The presenters of and participants in instructional improvement activities delivered over several months were the subjects. The presenters were categorized using two separate instruments to determine whether or not they used an adult-focused delivery. One instrument was a self-evaluation by the presenter, and the other was from the participants' perspective. Once that was determined, each session of the instructional improvement activities was categorized as either Adult-Focused or Not-Adult-Focused. A third survey instrument was administered about six weeks later to determine if the participants used or planned to use ideas from the session they attended in their classrooms. They were also asked if their teaching practices were changed based on the CTL session. The first two surveys were analyzed to determine if they categorized the sessions the same way from the each of the perspectives. That turned out not to be the case and in itself calls for further research. When each of these categorizations were used independently, statistically significant correlation between adult-focused delivery of the CTL session and the use of the ideas and/or materials in the participant's classes was not found. While this is an indication that adult-focused delivery methodology does not affect the use of the ideas presented, this single study should not be considered definitive in this conclusion, and further research is needed.