Chemistry, Department of


First Advisor

Marilyne Stains

Date of this Version



Dihua, X. (2017). Applying the Diffusion of Innovation Theory to Characterize STEM Faculty Attending Professional Development Programs (Master's thesis). Retrieved from DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska - Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Chemistry, Under the supervision of Professor Marilyne Stains. Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2017.

Copyright (c) 2017 Dihua Xue


Instructional practices in undergraduate STEM courses have been static for decades, with a primary focus on lecture. Over the last twenty years, extensive research on how people learn science has led to the development of innovative instructional strategies that have been shown to enhance students’ learning and interest. These in turn have led to calls to reform instructional practices in STEM fields at the undergraduate level. However, evidence shows that these research-based instructional strategies have largely not been incorporated into classes. The promotion of these new strategies has been mostly conducted through workshops. Although numerous studies have evaluated the impact of these workshop on raising awareness and uptake of these practices, few studies have focused on characterizing workshop attendees and the relationships between uptake of strategies and attributes of the strategies. We thus conducted a study exploring the type of faculty who attended workshop-based professional development programs focused on two evidence-based instructional practices (EBIPs): Peer Instruction (PI) and Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT). We leveraged Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation theory to characterize the distribution of types of adopters participating in each professional development program. Our data consist of open-ended and Likert-scale questions collected longitudinally over the course of a year via online surveys. The results indicate that workshop participants can mostly be categorized as early adopter traits and early majority. We also found that the distribution of adopter types as well as workshop participants’ movement through the innovation decision process is dependent on the attributes of the EBIP being taught. Implications for designing professional development programs that aim at propagating EBIPs will be presented.

Advisor: Marilyne Stains