Instructional Change Teams: An Exploratory Model

Amreen Thompson
Texas State University-San Marcos
Amreen Nasim Thompson, Texas State University-San Marcos

Author Profile
published Aug 24, 2020 9:17am

Over the past several years, our research team has been investigating factors that influence how instructional change teams collaborate to improve undergraduate STEM instruction. Our research revolves around a model we have developed to examine and interpret the effectiveness of instructional change teams in higher education. We define an instructional change team as a group of three or more instructors or other stakeholders who come together regularly to work on course design or redesign. This post will discuss the development and current state of our instructional change teams model.

Teams are increasingly being used to tackle instructional change efforts. We believe that team-based approaches can create more sustained change compared to individual-driven change endeavors (e.g., Chasteen, Perkins, Beale, Pollock, & Wieman, 2011). However, working in teams can be challenging. Teams in the context of higher education instructional change work have been understudied to date. Our ultimate goal is to use the instructional change teams model to provide guidance to change agents about how to best set up and use instructional change teams to develop successful sustained change. Who should be on a team? What task should the team be charged with? What kind of team dynamics need to be present? Should all team members get to voice their opinions equally? What are the different roles that team members play and how is this decided? These are some examples of the questions that we want to be able to answer and interpret from our model.

The current instructional change teams model was developed based on studies of existing instructional change teams. We first interviewed 28 project leaders at different institutions across the U.S. to identify key team setup characteristics and the outcomes. We developed a preliminary model of instructional change teams that included teams' collaboration, how teams are set up, how they coordinate their work together, their affective and cognitive states, and finally, the teams' outcomes. Next we collected and analyzed semi-structured interview data from 23 team members on their perceptions of important aspects of their collaboration and how those affect team outcomes. Through this qualitative analysis we identified key team processes and emergent states. The development of our model has been an iterative, exploratory process with much refinement along the way.

We are currently using empirical data from interviews with team members to begin to develop a survey instrument that higher education instructional change teams can use to examine, diagnose and potentially improve the functioning of their teams. We intend to pilot these items in the near future. Ultimately, we intend to use data from our validated survey instrument to look for relationships between the elements of our model for a larger number of teams and develop research-based recommendations based on the trends that we observe. In these ways, we hope to continue to support team members' and other change leaders' efforts to generate high-quality and sustained instructional changes.

Instructional change teams are a great way to affect sustained instructional change. We are actively seeking collaborators to help us refine and improve the instructional change teams model. If you are part of or leading an instructional change team and would like to get involved with our research, or simply hear more about what we are doing, we would love to hear from you! Please visit our website at: or email us at: or for more details about what a collaboration might look like, or to learn more about our work.


Chasteen, S., Perkins, K., Beale, P., Pollock, S., & Wieman, C. (2011). A thoughtful approach to instruction: Course transformation for the rest of us. Journal of College Science Teaching, 40 (4), 24-30

Suggested Citation:

Thompson, A. (2020, August 24). Instructional Change Teams: An Exploratory Model. Retrieved from

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