Research on College Student Learning and Motivation: Will It Affect College Instruction?
Marilla D. Svinicki University of Texas at Austin
This chapter focuses on a different aspect of educational research than the others in this volume. It is obvious to see that although most of the other authors represent the impact Wilbert McKeachie has had on the field of educational research, I represent the other side of the coin, the impact that he has had on the rest of higher education. I am one of those in the trenches trying to make changes in college teaching and learning from the inside out. We are the consumers of the research and procedures that McKeachie and the others generate. As the director of the faculty development center at a major research university with 48,000 students, 2,500 faculty, and 2,700 teaching assistants, I can speak from first-hand experience about the degree to which McKeachie and others like him have made inroads into the everyday life of the college classroom. Therefore, this chapter looks not so much at the research itself, but rather at why that research has the potential for influencing college teaching and learning to a far greater degree than any that has preceded it, a potential that may never be realized unless some action is taken by researchers and practitioners alike.
One could propose that on one hand educational psychology has been a major source of change in college teaching and learning, and on the other hand educational psychology has had little impact on college instruction overall. Each of those statements could be argued effectively.