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The climate for teaching at a major public research university: A case study

Justin M Smith, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This study focuses on the challenge of sustaining a climate conducive to teaching within a research university. (Frost & Teodoresu, 2001) This study explores how teaching award recipients perceive the climate for teaching at a major Midwest research university through a case study analysis. This study was guided by characteristics of cultures that support teaching (Feldman & Paulsen, 1999; Hoover, 2006) Teaching climate is defined as the shared perceptions of current organizational processes that affect the institutional environment for teaching (Peterson et al., 1991). Three types of distinguished teaching awards, at the college and university wide levels, were used to select participants well positioned to comment on their experience with organizational context. Participants were randomly selected with representatives from each college. A random sample of thirteen participants was selected for semi-structured interviews. Analysis of these interviews revealed five themes descriptive of the current climate: insufficient recognition of the scholarship of teaching, lack of systematic opportunities to improve teaching, positive faculty involvement and sense of ownership, variable administrative commitment and support, and support for collaborative efforts and shared ideas. Several recommendations to improve the climate for teaching emanated from this study: "You know, if I were to win the lottery, I would reopen a teaching and learning center here!", Create policies at the college and department level that incentivizes effort to improve teaching, "identify in each graduate program, a serious commitment to develop teaching effectiveness", Provide support for senior faculty to coach and mentor junior faculty in teaching, Provide support for teaching portfolios to evaluate teaching, Support leadership development of department chairs to improve the climate for teaching.^

Subject Area

Education, Leadership|Psychology, Industrial|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Smith, Justin M, "The climate for teaching at a major public research university: A case study" (2010). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3432438.