Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education


Date of this Version

Fall 1989


Teaching Excellence: Toward the Best in the Academy (fall 1989)

This article was adapted from K. Patricia Cross, ''The Need for Classroom Research," in To Improve the Academy, J.K. Kurfiss (ed.). Stillwater, Oklahoma, United States: POD Network in Higher Education and New Forums Press, 1987.

Distributed courtesy of the Center for Teaching Excellence, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States


Reforming Undergraduate Education One Class at a Time, by K. Patricia Cross, University of California, Berkeley:

A continuing question for those of us in education is-What can and should be done to improve the quality of undergraduate instruction? The reports that constitute the higher education reform movement of the 1980's have taken this as their major emphasis. However, while these reports express plenty of dissatisfaction with the quality of instruction, there are few constructive suggestions for what to do about it. Part of the problem is that there is an unexamined assumption that underlies most of the educational reform movement. It is that educational reform consists of making large highly visible policy decisions, such as installation of statewide testing or intensive systems. There is very little attention given to the potential impact of thousands of small classroom reforms that might add up to real and substantial change. We fail to consider what each teacher acting in his or her own classroom might do to achieve reform. I propose that the biggest and most long-lasting reform of undergraduate education will come when individual faculty or small groups of instructors adopt the view of themselves as reformers within their immediate sphere of influence, the classes they teach every day. I believe that it is time for classroom teachers to seize the initiative and begin doing the type of research that will improve the learning of their own students. I call this Classroom Research. The purpose of classroom research is to help teachers evaluate their own instructional effectiveness, to explore new solutions to the problems of their own students, and to foster intellectual stimulation and professional renewal for themselves as teachers.