Leading the way: changing the focus from teaching to learning in large subjects with limited budgets
To lead positive change in the teaching practice of teams that service large numbers of diverse students from multiple degree programs provides many challenges. The primary aim of this study was to provide a clear framework on which to plan the process of change that can be utilized by academic departments sector wide. Barriers to change were reduced by adapting and utilizing Kotter's principals of change specifically by creating a sense of urgency and defining a clear goal designed to address the problem. Changing attitudes involved training staff in new teaching and learning approaches and strategies, and creating a collaborative, supportive team-based teaching environment within which the planned changes could be implemented and evaluated. As a result senior academics are now directly involved in delivering sections of the face-to-face teaching in the new environment. Through promoting positive change we enabled deeper student engagement with the theoretical concepts delivered in lectures as evidenced by favorable student evaluations, feedback, and improved final exam results. A collaborative team-based approach that recognizes the importance of distributed leadership combined with a clearly articulated change management process were central to enabling academics to design, try, and evaluate the new teaching and learning practices. Our study demonstrates that a concerted focus on "change management" enabled teaching team members to adopt a major shift in the teaching and learning approach that resulted in measurable improvements in student learning.