CBAM (Concerns-based Adoption Model) and Value Line

Usually used to address change implementation, CBAM is also an easy way for groups to self-rate about their current experience or views on any topic. You can think about ‘level of concern’ as a stage of implementation or exploration for the topic. Here, I describe its value mostly as ‘level of use’ to get people talking and sharing what they know about a topic, or want to know.

For example, On this topic: Identifying birds in the field, Where are you with that? What ‘level’? Self-rate:

Three stages, can do as numerical, basic description, or functional, e.g.

0            Not at all            I know what a bird is.

1            Somewhat            I can identify a few common birds, like crow, chickadee,                                                 robin…

2            Very good            I teach and write about this and have a life list of over 1000                                                 birds, organized by geographic region

You could have 3-5 stages, depending on the topic.

For educational development work, potential topics might be:

–       helping faculty and others to teach using technology

–       conducting scholarship of teaching and learning

–       ?? What else?

Where are you at with Topic X?  If, under ‘concern’, you have more than one response, try to select the strongest one right now.

Take a minute to think or write down some notes about it.

Three different ways you can then proceed:

1.Walk around and find 1-2 people with something similar.  Discuss how you self-rated and why.  How does it relate to what you hope to learn, explore, develop, practice on Topic X…. (10 minutes for this activity). Debrief as whole group (10 minutes)

2. Move to a table or group who have similar self-ratings, all the 0s together, all the 3s, etc. Discuss (same as in Example 1, but also, what would you like to ask someone from another group?). 10 minutes. Then, re-arrange so each group has mix of 0,1,2. Discuss the question and other related topics (10 minutes). Debrief as whole group (10 minutes)

3. Form a ‘Value Line’ that is based on the topic, for example for technology, you don’t say how you self-rated (necessarily). Instead, consider this statement: “appropriate use of technology is one of the most valuable aspects of good teaching practice’.

Note:  You may choose a statement that is a bit controversial. You should choose one for which you suspect will have a range of responses. You can also tell people they can go with how they really feel, or they can ‘role-play’ (telling people this can make them feel less vulnerable, though you should also explain that we will be arguing ideas, not people, and to be respectful of all views)

Do you agree or disagree? Stand on an imaginary line in the room where you ‘stand’ with it, with Agree completely on one end. Disagree completely on the other. Or somewhere in between. Talk to people around you about why you are standing where you are (3-5 minutes). Ask for some at extremes, and some in middle, to say what they talked about (5-7 minutes). Does anyone want to move on the line? Go ahead. Ask why people moved (5-7 minutes.)


AEA (Area Education Agency) in Iowa. This website has many additional links, including videos about CBAM:

Loucks-Horsley, Susan. 1996. The Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM): A Model for Change in Individuals.  An excerpt from Professional Development for Science Education: A Critical and Immediate Challenge in National Standards & the Science Curriculum, edited by Rodger Bybee. Biological Sciences Curriculum Study. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.

Collaborative Learning Structures and Techniques on the Global Development Research Centre website (an independent non-profit think tank!). I note here the main URL, as it includes such great information and links to activities and techniques. Value line is one such link.


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