What Motivates Biology Instructors to Engage and Persist in Teaching Professional Development?

CBE Life Sci Educ. 2017 Fall;16(3):ar54. doi: 10.1187/cbe.16-08-0241.


We conducted a study of 19 biology instructors participating in small, local groups at six research-intensive universities connected to the Automated Analysis of Constructed Response (AACR) project (www.msu.edu/∼aacr). Our aim was to uncover participants' motivation to persist in a long-term teaching professional development effort, a topic that is understudied in discipline-based educational research. We interviewed each participant twice over a 2-year period and conducted qualitative analyses on the data, using expectancy-value theory as a framework for considering motivation. Our analyses revealed that motivation among instructors was high due to their enjoyment of the AACR groups. The high level of motivation is further explained by the fact that AACR groups facilitated instructor involvement with the larger AACR project. We also found that group dynamics encouraged persistence; instructors thought they might never talk with colleagues about teaching in the absence of AACR groups; and groups were perceived to have a low-enough time requirement to warrant sustained involvement. We conclude that instructors have persisted in AACR groups because the groups provided great value with limited cost. The characterization of instructor experiences described here can contribute to a better understanding of faculty needs in teaching professional development.

MeSH terms

  • Biology / education*
  • Faculty* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Perception
  • Teaching*
  • Universities