• Implementing a new student evaluation of teaching system using the Kotter change model

Abstract:

Kotter’s (1996. Leading Change. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press) model is one of the most frequently cited guides for implementing planned organizational change. While this model is widely used across many industries and contexts, including higher education, there are few research studies and cases that provide in-depth information on the applicability and potential of this model to inform successful change initiatives. In this paper, we describe how we used Kotter’s model as a guide when embarking on a multi-year effort to change our university’s system for student evaluation of teaching. This change involved a shift in both instrument and technology and involved dozens of stakeholders in a complex and changing environment. Our case provides an example of how Kotter’s model can be helpful in implementing change on a variety of initiatives within institutions of higher education. Limitations and implications for both research and practice are discussed.

Abstract:

Kotter’s eight stage process for creating a major change is one of the most widely recognised models for change management, and yet there are few case studies in the academic literature that enquire into how this process has been used in practice. This paper describes a change manager’s action research enquiring into the use of this Process to manage a major organisational change. The change was initiated in response to the organisation’s ageing workforce, introducing a knowledge management program focusing on the interpersonal aspects of knowledge retention. Although Kotter’s process emphasises a top-led model for change, the change team found it was necessary to engage at many levels of the organisation to implement the organisational change. The process is typically depicted as a linear sequence of steps. However, this image of the change process was found to not represent the complexity of the required action. Managing the change required the change team to facilitate multiple concurrent instances of Kotter’s process throughout the organisation, to re-create change that was locally relevant to participants in the change process.

Abstract:

While university change initiatives have become more common in the face of changing learner needs and higher education funding, many fail to produce desired effects, even when guided by organizational change models. The purpose of this study was to document a successful change process in an engineering department at a Hispanic-serving institution in the southwestern United States. The change effort focused on enhancing faculty capacity to support diverse student success. The change process was planned using Kotter’s eight-step change model (1996) and was therefore a prescribed, linear, sequential change process. Qualitative analysis of audio-recorded faculty interviews and meetings, artifacts, field notes, and participant observation highlights how Kotter’s change model was implemented iteratively and emergently. Early steps were revisited and strategies were treated as improvable. This approach enhanced faculty buy-in and project success. Characterization of each step provides insight into ways to apply Kotter’s change model in higher education settings.