We evaluate the impact of an institutional effort to transform undergraduate science courses using an approach based on course assessments. The approach is guided by A Framework for K-12 Science Education and focuses on scientific and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas, together called three-dimensional learning. To evaluate the extent of change, we applied the Three-dimensional Learning Assessment Protocol to 4 years of chemistry, physics, and biology course exams. Changes in exams differed by discipline and even by course, apparently depending on an interplay between departmental culture, course organization, and perceived course ownership, demonstrating the complex nature of transformation in higher education. We conclude that while transformation must be supported at all organizational levels, ultimately, change is controlled by factors at the course and departmental levels.