Pedagogical Risk Taking: Is It Worth It?

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Traditional pedagogical techniques are teacher-centered, frequently entail lengthy lecture sessions or one-way presentations, and involve limited student engagement and participation. Research shows diminishing results of such pedagogical techniques in students' learning especially for millennials. As technological, economic, and cultural forces have fundamentally altered the very foundation of traditional educational models, educators try to figure out how to best meet the needs of students in a personalized, meaningful and timely way. As are result, several new innovative teaching methods have been developed. These methods of content delivery deviate from the traditional model of lecturing and passive learning towards a greater focus on active learning, where greater student interaction is encouraged, the boundaries of authority less defined, and a focus on learning over grades is emphasized. However, for a faculty member, identifying new and engaging ways of teaching and course reorganization can be a time consuming and research intensive process. Sometimes, it may also require a significant technology investment. Despite the faculty member's ardent effort, there is a risk of failure since not all pedagogical techniques work for all courses. However, when executed properly, these innovative techniques keep students engaged and motivated and significantly improve students' learning. In this paper, we refer such innovative teaching techniques as pedagogical risk taking techniques. The paper describes pedagogical risk taking activities of four instructors from three different institutions. It gives a critical look at the effort required to create such teaching methods and the results in terms of improvements in student learning and satisfaction. Findings show that taking pedagogical risk is an important pedagogical tool that instructors should have in order to engage and improve students' learning.