22 SES 09 A, Advanced Approaches in Learning
The 21st century European university exists and functions within the constantly changing digital age; technology must become a key feature of the European research and higher education areas (ERA; EHEA), and a recent report carried out by the EUA has shown this to be recognised across Europe (Gaebel et al., 2014). Students’ expectations are framed by their personal experiences and aspirations in relation to digital functionality, and those leading the higher education teaching and learning change agenda recognise the need to meet such expectations. Moreover, in the context of a post-Bologna EHEA, where increased mobility presents many students with linguistically-based challenges, technology can be an invaluable tool – for example, flipped lectures and lecture capture allow students to listen repeatedly to ideas presented in a language that they may have difficulty understanding, enhancing their understanding, increasing their participation, and thus building up their confidence.
This ECER paper presents selected findings from a study that examined strategic change initiatives that were focused on technology-enhanced learning (TEL) in English universities. The conference paper will go beyond simply presenting and discussing the research and its findings, it will also discuss the implications of the findings for student learning within a multi-lingual EHEA.
Funded by the UK’s Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE), the study was, in part, an evaluation of the impact on TEL-focused institutional strategic change of a specific initiative that the LFHE had managed: the ‘Changing the Learning Landscape’ (CLL) project. Open to all HEIs in England, the CLL project offered institutions 5 consultancy days – free of charge – to support strategic change in relation to TEL. Between 2012 and 2014 it was taken up by some 70 English HEIs.
Objectives and research questions
The overarching objective of the research reported in this ECER paper was expressed by the funders, in their invitation to tender: ‘to examine how strategic change and embedding technological developments can contribute to improvements in student learning outcomes’. It was emphasised that ‘the main focus … will be an examination of the learning which has come out of the Leadership Foundation’s Changing the Learning Landscape (CLL) project’. Thus the study was, in part, an evaluation of the CLL initiative. It addressed the following main research questions:
- What kinds and extent of TEL resulted from the CLL initiative?
- What are the perceived criteria for the success of the CLL initiative in HEIs?
- What influences the degree of perceived success of strategic TEL-focused change?
The dominant theoretical perspectives to influence the research design are related to professional development and employee motivation. Strategic change initiatives represent attempts to effect professional development – often on a large scale (Evans, 2011), so understanding what influences individuals’ receptivity towards and motivation to develop professionally by embracing new ways of working informs our understanding of what influences the success of change initiatives. The study draws upon theoretical perspectives on (academic) working life, including identity theory (Stets and Burke, 2000), for whether people perceive and identify themselves as, for example, teachers or researchers, is likely to influence their receptivity to pedagogical development initiatives.Theoretical perspectives on the nature of professional learning and development and how it occurs in individuals are also highly relevant, such as Clarke and Hollingsworth’s (2005) ‘interconnected’ model of professional growth, and Evans’s conceptual model of professional development (Evans, 2011, 2014) and her contention that, for attitudinal development to occur, the ‘developee’ must recognise the proposed change as ‘a better way’ of doing things.
Clarke, D. & Hollingsworth, H. (2002) Elaborating a model of teacher professional growth, Teaching and Teacher Education, 18, 947-967. Evans, L. (2011) The ‘shape’ of teacher professionalism in England: professional standards, performance management, professional development, and the changes proposed in the 2010 White Paper, British Educational Research Journal, 37 (5), 851-870. Evans, L. (2014) Leadership for professional development and learning: enhancing our understanding of how teachers develop, Cambridge Journal of Education, 44 (2), 179-198. Gaebel, M., Kupriyanova, V., Morais, R. and Colucci, E. (2014) E-learning in European higher education institutions: results of a mapping survey conducted October-December 2013, Brussels, European University Association. Stets, J. E. and Burke, P. J. (2000) Identity theory and social identity, Social Psychology Quarterly, 63 (3), 224-237.
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