Yesterday morning, two colleagues and I led an online presentation as part of our institution’s celebration of Open Education Week. The presentation was designed to describe our university’s efforts at developing an Open Textbook Initiative (OTI). We reviewed two years of work that laid the foundation for the initiative and discussed how each informed the overall development process. While I wrote about the beginnings of these efforts last summer, we organized our presentation around “critical incidents” and discussed the factors that led to the critical incident and how it foster the next stage of the OTI evolution. If you’re interested, the full presentation can be viewed here.
As I reflected more on our presentation today, I thought about how each of the critical incidents ultimately tied into faculty motivation. A few years ago, I wrote a blog post that reviewed Wergin’s 2001 article in Liberal Education titled Beyond Carrots and Sticks: What Really Motivates Faculty. In the article, Wergin identifies four common factors that motivate faculty on collegiate campuses. The article reviewed forty years of research and identified community, autonomy, recognition, and efficacy as the dominant factors influencing faculty motivation. Let me detail how each played a role in the development process.
Wergin writes that faculty possess a “desire to belong, to feel part of a nurturing community.” This is especially true with our Open Education group on campus. When we first started working together, we finally felt like we had “found our tribe.” We were no longer single innovators trying to work against the inertia of educational history. Finding a community of collaborators is so critical in any effort on campus.
While community is important, having the autonomy and independence to work alone is also vital in our faculty roles. “Professional autonomy,” Wergin writes, “is the freedom to experiment, to follow one’s own leads wherever they may go and do so without fear of the consequences.” The great thing about our Open Education group is that faculty have taken on leadership roles with different facets of our work. We have a grant writing team, a conference team, an education team, and so on. Each team allows for some autonomy while working for the collaborative objectives of the group.
Wergin writes that faculty want “to feel valued and to know that others see (our) work as worthwhile.” Through our Open Education efforts, we’ve worked to recognize those faculty who are taking risks. For example, I’ve used the website for the teaching and learning center I direct to feature faculty who are using OERs on campus. Check out my awesome colleagues Dr. Chris Stieha, Dr. Dan Albert and Dr. Alex Redcay. Each deserves recognition for their innovative efforts.
Efficacy, Wergin writes, “is a sense of having a tangible impact on our environment.” As we work to have our work be appreciated and recognized, we also want to know that our efforts made a difference and have contributed to some greater goal. This is the part that our group is currently working on. As we move forward with our Open Textbook Initiative, we plan to collect data to chart the impact of our efforts and to showcase how using Open Educational Resources can impact student learning.
Wergin, J. F. (2001). Beyond Carrots and Sticks: What Really Motivates Faculty. Liberal Education, 87(1), 50-53.