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Thursday, June 23 • 11:30 - 12:20
CON06.16 - Dealing with Student Resistance to Pedagogical Change

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You have finally decided to implement a new and innovate way of teaching your course. As you get close to your first class, you start to worry……What if the students don’t like my approach? What if they are slow to adapt and struggle? What if students are unsuccessful? What if they resist the new initiative?

Student resistance is when students respond negatively to new teaching methods (Akerlind & Trevitt, 1999; Seidel & Tanner, 2013). The literature indicates that resistance to change is normal and should be anticipated (Akerlind & Trevitt, 1999; Hessler, 2016). Student resistance may take the form of teacher blame, reluctant compliance, avoidance, or disruption (Siedel & Tanner, 2013).

As part of adopting new pedagogies, educators must be prepared to deal with feelings of inadequacy and even publicly make mistakes (Pundak & Rozner, 2007). Students may also be experiencing these feelings. For example, students may be experiencing these feelings due to the potential disparity between their individual abilities and the abilities required to participate within the new learning experience (Pundak & Rozner, 2007). To prepare and overcome student resistance it is important to consider the student perspective (Hessler, 2016; Siedel & Tanner, 2013).

Most students are striving for high academic performance, so it is reasonable to expect that students are concerned with how to adapt to new pedagogies; particularly if they have been successful with traditional approaches (Hessler, 2007). Students often have expectations and preconceived notions of how the learning experience will unfold and change can contribute to students becoming overwhelmed, frustrated or disengaged (Siedel & Tanner, 2013).

This interactive workshop hopes to explore and share the educator’s experiences dealing with student resistance within the learning environment. Participants will form small groups to discuss student resistance scenarios and consider the student perspective. The different groups will then be asked to share their thoughts on how they would approach the problem identified in the scenario to the entire group. The goal is to highlight the issue of student resistance and empower educators with strategies to overcome it.


Åkerland, A.C. & Trevitt, A.C. (1995). Enhancing self-directed learning through educational technology: When students resist change, Innovations in Educations and Training International, 36, 96–105. doi: 10.1080/1355800990360202

Hessler, K.L. (2016) Nursing education: Flipping the classroom, Nursing Practitioner, 41, 17–27. doi: 10.1097/01.NPR.0000476373.04620.33

Pundak, D. & Rozner, S. (2008). Empowering engineering college staff to adopt active learning methods, Journal of Science and Education and Technology, 17, 152–163. doi: 10.1007/s10956-007-9057-3

Seidel, S. & Tanner, K. (2013). “What if students revolt?”—Considering student resistance: Origins, options and opportunities for investigation, CBE-Life Sciences Education, 12, 586–595. doi:10.1187/cbe-13-09-0190

avatar for Randall Wakelam

Randall Wakelam

Associate Professor of History, Royal Military College
Associate Professor of History at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMCC) where he teaches military history. He is also Faculty Associate at the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies, a Fellow at the Queen's Centre for International and Defence Policy and... Read More →

Vicki L Woodside-Duggins

Training Development Officer with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and a PhD student at Queen's University. Currently involved with Training and Education Research and Development within the CAF, one specific project is the implementation of Active Learning Classrooms at Royal Military... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 11:30 - 12:20 EDT
Weldon Library 121 (Teaching Support Centre) Western University