Understanding Adoption of New Teaching Strategies through a Behavioral Change Model

Updated: Oct 4

Todd Zakrajsek

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill



For over 25 years, leaders in higher education have been suggesting educators shift the classroom focus from teaching to learning (King, 1993; Barr & Tagg, 1995; Hake, 1998). Along the way, this movement has called for the end of the lecture (Bajak, 2014) and advocated for more active and engaging teaching strategies (Major, Harris, & Zakrajsek, 2015). What has all this accomplished? There have certainly been advances in engaging students in the learning process, but lecturing continues to be one of the most frequently used teaching strategies. Why is it that so many faculty are resistant to make the shift to a more learning-centered classroom?

When faculty members resist employing, or adapting, learning strategies that engage students they are often considered "out of touch" or even accused of not caring about their students.

The message to these experienced teachers is often that they need to abandon how they have been teaching and to engage in a pedagogical pursuit different from anything they have seen previously. It seems few realize the undertaking boils down to a simple request of changing their behaviors. Ok, it may seem simple, but one thing psychologists have long known is that creating a new habit (i.e., changing behavior) is extremely