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Rogers' diffusion theory in education: The implementation and sustained use of innovations introduced during staff development

Vernon F Fisher, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This qualitative case study examined how teachers implement and sustain innovations introduced through staff development programs. The subjects in the study, six high school teachers, participated in a staff development program to improve reading comprehension across the content areas. Rogers' Diffusion Theory was used as a conceptual model to understand how teachers implement the innovations they had learned. ^ Rogers attempted to explain how people acquired new knowledge, how they implement new knowledge, and how new knowledge becomes sustained practice over time. To describe this process, Rogers created the model he called the innovation decision process. Consisting of five stages---Knowledge, Persuasion, Decision, Implementation, and Confirmation---Rogers provided the framework used in this study to understand how teachers acquired new knowledge introduced through staff development and how the teachers implemented that knowledge into practice. The study focused on the implementation stage and specifically the process of re-inventing. Three major themes emerged during the implementation stage: (a) the desirability to collaborate with fellow teachers, (b) the need to connect a purpose to the innovation, and (c) the requirement to see a model of the innovation with the opportunity to practice the innovation. The three themes are woven together and increase the likelihood that the innovation will be implemented and will be sustained in use over time. ^ Rogers (2003) defined re-invention as "the degree to which an innovation is changed or modified by a user in the process of its adoption and implementation" (p. 180). This study examined how teachers implemented innovations and whether they made significant changes to the innovation as it was implemented. This study found that re-invention, changing the innovation in appreciable ways, did not occur as the teachers implemented innovations about reading comprehension. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Teacher Training|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Fisher, Vernon F, "Rogers' diffusion theory in education: The implementation and sustained use of innovations introduced during staff development" (2005). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3201767.