Is transferring an educational innovation actually a process of transformation?

Lara Varpio, Robert Bell, Gary Hollingworth, Alireza Jalali, Paul Haidet, Ruth Levine, Glenn Regehr

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    36 Scopus citations


    Recent debates question the extent to which adopting an educational innovation requires compromise between the innovation's original design and the adoption site's context. Through compromises, the innovation's fundamental principles may be transferred, transformed, or abandoned. This paper analyzes such compromises during the piloting of Team-Based Learning (TBL). We ask: When is the process of transferring an innovation actually a process of transformation? This study is an autoethnography of our research team's implementation process. Autoethnographies are personalized accounts where authors draw on their own experiences to extend understanding of a particular topic. To conduct this autoethnography, we used an in-depth, interactive interview with the piloting clinician educator. In the analysis of TBL's fundamental principles, some aspects of the principles transferred easily, while others were transformed. Analysis raised concerns that the transformations threatened the foundational principles of TBL. While an educational innovation's techniques may seem to be surface structures, they are realizations of deeper fundamental principles. The fundamental principles are themselves realizations of the innovation's foundational philosophy. When techniques and/or principles are modified to a context, it is important to analyze if the modifications continue to uphold the innovation's philosophy.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)357-367
    Number of pages11
    JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Aug 2012


    • Educational innovation
    • Qualitative research
    • Team-based learning (TBL)

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education


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