Gary A. Smith

Many faculty members demonstrate unwavering resistance to adopting research-based instructional strategies. This phenomenon commonly fits with motivated reasoning, whereby a person feels threatened by persuasion to change, leading to overtly defensive and sometimes disruptive behaviors and refusal. Changing away from established practices may challenge one’s self-identity and values as an effective teacher and triggers arguments intended to invalidate research-based alternatives. Faculty who are motivated to reject consensus best practices may impede the implementation of these practices across entire departments or institutions. Motivated reasoning and its underlying cognitive processes are explained by self-determination theory, which leads to predictions of faculty behaviors and suggesting more effective persuasion approaches by educational developers. Change conversations need to preserve the basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness (especially within affinity groups) in order to succeed. Importantly, persuasive argumentation with data or authoritative viewpoints, which succeeds with many faculty who electively attend educational-development programs, will predictably have limited success with faculty who respond with motivated reasoning.