Development of the Cooperative Adoption Factors Instrument to measure factors associated with instructional practice in the context of institutional change

Jacob D. McAlpin, John P. Ziker, John Skvoretz, Brian A. Couch, Brittnee Earl, Stephanie Feola, A. Kelly Lane, Karl Mertens, Luanna B. Prevost, Susan E. Shadle, Marilyne Stains, Jennifer E. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Many institutional and departmentally focused change efforts have sought to improve teaching in STEM through the promotion of evidence-based instructional practices (EBIPs). Even with these efforts, EBIPs have not become the predominant mode of teaching in many STEM departments. To better understand institutional change efforts and the barriers to EBIP implementation, we developed the Cooperative Adoption Factors Instrument (CAFI) to probe faculty member characteristics beyond demographic attributes at the individual level. The CAFI probes multiple constructs related to institutional change including perceptions of the degree of mutual advantage of taking an action (strategic complements), trust and interconnectedness among colleagues (interdependence), and institutional attitudes toward teaching (climate). Results: From data collected across five STEM fields at three large public research universities, we show that the CAFI has evidence of internal structure validity based on exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. The scales have low correlations with each other and show significant variation among our sampled universities as demonstrated by ANOVA. We further demonstrate a relationship between the strategic complements and climate factors with EBIP adoption through use of a regression analysis. In addition to these factors, we also find that indegree, a measure of opinion leadership, correlates with EBIP adoption. Conclusions: The CAFI uses the CACAO model of change to link the intended outcome of EBIP adoption with perception of EBIPs as mutually reinforcing (strategic complements), perception of faculty having their fates intertwined (interdependence), and perception of institutional readiness for change (climate). Our work has established that the CAFI is sensitive enough to pick up on differences between three relatively similar institutions and captures significant relationships with EBIP adoption. Our results suggest that the CAFI is likely to be a suitable tool to probe institutional change efforts, both for change agents who wish to characterize the local conditions on their respective campuses to support effective planning for a change initiative and for researchers who seek to follow the progression of a change initiative. While these initial findings are very promising, we also recommend that CAFI be administered in different types of institutions to examine the degree to which the observed relationships hold true across contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number48
JournalInternational Journal of STEM Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by NSF DUE Grants to Boise State University (1726503), University of Nebraska-Lincoln (1726409), and University of South Florida (1726330 and 1849473). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Change agent
  • Factor analysis
  • Institutional change
  • Instructional practices
  • Instrument


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