The impact of an active-learning designed faculty development program: A students’ perspective of an Italian university

  • Monica Fedeli University of Padua, Italy
  • Edward W. Taylor Penn State Harrisburg, USA
Keywords: student satisfaction, effectiveness, impact evaluation, faculty development, faculty learning communities


This study aims to understand the impact of a faculty development program emphasizing active learning (innovative teaching) attended by instructors of diverse disciplines at the University of Padova in Italy, which has had an 800-year history of using traditional approaches to teaching and learning. Using a community of practice theoretical framework, it recognized that the development of faculty learning communities provided a supportive medium for fostering innovative teaching. A multilevel research design involving surveys collected from 2019 to 2020 explored the program’s impact in terms of student satisfaction and program effectiveness. Findings showed varied levels of impact, among student examination attempts, pass rates and average grades. These findings, although involving one university, are organizationally and culturally emblematic of other Italian universities and have related implications when considering the implementation of innovative approaches to teaching via faculty development programs. This study also revealed challenges (faculty engagement) and limitations when measuring (e.g., satisfaction, exam attempts) the impact of active learning in relationship to learning outcomes.

Received: 30 June 2022
Accepted: 3 October 2023


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Author Biographies

Monica Fedeli, University of Padua, Italy

PhD, is Full Professor in Teaching and Learning Methods and Organizational Development at the University of Padova, Italy. She has been Adjunct Professor at Boston University, at Michigan State University, at Julius Maximilian University, Germany, Visiting Professor at California University Berkeley, School of Education. She is Fulbright Scholar recipient at University of Georgia, College of Education for the year 2020. Her current research interests include adult teaching and learning methods, faculty community and professional development, university business dialogue, critical approach for human and organizational development, gender equity and women leadership. Since 2021, Vice Rector for the Third Mission and Relations with the Territory. From 2016 to 2021 Advisor for University of Padova for Teaching and Learning Innovation and e-learning. She published more than 150 articles, books, and book chapters in variety of national and international journals, and book series.

Edward W. Taylor, Penn State Harrisburg, USA

EdD, is Professor Emeritus of Adult Education at Penn State Harrisburg, United States of America, in a graduate program that focuses on the teaching and learning of adults. He has extensive experience designing and leading workshops about teaching and learning (e.g., Adult Teaching Methods, Learning Theory, Promoting Critical Reflection, Role of Action Research in the Classroom, Promoting Faculty-Student Relationships) involving faculty/educators from a variety of disciplines (e.g., medical and health, engineering, education) in United States, Canada, Europe, Middle East and Central America. He trained more than 1000 faculty in Italy, mostly at University of Padova and worked also for other Italian universities teaching active learning and teaching innovation. His research interests include adult cognition, transformative learning theory, teaching in cultural institutions, and medical education. His research has appeared in Adult Education Quarterly, International Journal of Lifelong Education, Medical Teacher, and among other scholarly journals. He recently published Teaching in Public Places and co-edited Handbook of Transformative Learning: Theory, Research and Practice.


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How to Cite
Fedeli, Monica, and Edward W. Taylor. 2023. “The Impact of an Active-Learning Designed Faculty Development Program: A students’ Perspective of an Italian University”. Tuning Journal for Higher Education 11 (1), 151-74.