22 SES 06 C, (Mis)perceptions and Reflections on Teaching and Learning
What constitutes good teaching in higher education and what competencies should a good university teacher possess are questions that have raised a lot of interest during the past decades in higher education. The way the teachers experience and see themselves as academics and teachers, play crucial role in how they are as teachers, as academic identities and experience of expertise are contextual and created socially in certain social and historical contexts (Ashwin et al., 2016; Isopahkala‐Bouret, 2008; Uitto, Kaunisto, Syrjälä, & Estola, 2015; Weller, 2016). Expertise and experience of pedagogical competency is not a stable status.
When understanding academic identity and experience of expertise as contextual and created socially, the role of social relations, especially with peers and colleagues, may be of great importance. According to Uitto et al. (2015), significant relationships are at the heart of how teachers discuss their identities and how the identity forms. University teachers create and maintain their understanding of teaching and learning in significant networks by having meaningful private discussions characterized by mutual trust and shared intellectual intrigue (Pyörälä, Hirsto, Toom, Myyry, & Lindblom‐Ylänne, 2015; Roxå & Mårtensson, 2009). Even though significant networks and discussions have been recognized to have a positive effect on how the teachers consider their academic identity in earlier studies (e.g. Uitto et al., 2015), the social aspect of reflection and its’ meaning and significance in how the teachers experience their pedagogical competency requires further understanding. Furthermore, the role of emotions in learning and teaching has not been recognized either very well earlier, since learning and teaching in higher education are considered to be primarily cognitive and rational activity. However, in recent research literature, the role of emotions has emerged in learning, professional development and developing a sense of identity as a teacher (Ashwin et al., 2016; Isopahkala‐Bouret, 2008; Pekrun, Frenzel, Götz, & Perry, 2007; Tynjälä, Virtanen, Klemola, Kostiainen, & Rasku‐Puttonen, 2016). There is an emotional aspect in the experience of expertise as an academic and a teacher: besides knowledge and skills, one has to be able to feel confident with one’s expertise when acting as an expert (Isopahkala‐Bouret, 2008).
In this study, we aim to investigate the role of peers and emotions in how the university teachers experience themselves as teachers and their pedagogical competency during a research and teaching development project focusing on flipped learning design. The concept of competency is here defined following the interpretative research tradition suggesting that competency can be defined as a social construction that results from the interaction between the individual and the environment in a certain context (Sandberg, 2000). Furthermore, it is not the only the competencies as such, that are significant, but also the way the teachers experience their competency (Garavan & McGuire 2001, 147; Sandberg, 2000). The concept of pedagogical competency in this study refers to university teacher’s conceptions, reflections, evaluations and experienced confidence as teachers (Pekkarinen & Hirsto, 2017), and the experienced pedagogical competency can be approached through teachers’ reflections of their pedagogical competency.
Our research question was: How do the university teachers reflect the role of peers and emotions in how they experience themselves as teachers and their pedagogical competency?
The context of the study was a multidisciplinary Finnish university and the study was carried out as part of a larger, one‐year‐long, research and teaching development project, which aimed to develop the learning environment of the university and its departments towards more student‐centered approach. This development project included recruiting teachers interested in developing their teaching through flipped classroom –design or flipped learning framework. Participants of the project included 43 university teachers, and they were provided support for their course development through three collaborative seminars during the year. Seminars focused on planning learning outcomes and restructuring the contents of the course in terms of study material, the pedagogical design of supporting classes, assessment and evaluation of student learning, and supervision and guidance of students. Furthermore, support was provided in form of multidisciplinary peer groups. The data was collected from nine university teachers participating the teaching development project. The teachers voluntarily signed up for the interviews. The data was collected approximately in the middle of the project. A semi‐structured interview was used as data collection method and the data was analyzed using theory‐guided qualitative content analysis, that is based on both inductive and deductive procedures (Corbin & Strauss, 2008; Creswell, 1994; Gibbs, 2007; Merriam, 2009; Miles, Huberman, & Saldaña, 2014).
Our preliminary results suggest the role of peers and social networks is very important in how the teachers experience themselves as teachers and their pedagogical competency. Even if many of the university teachers participating to the teaching development project reflect their teaching by themselves, most often teaching is pondered together with colleagues and peer support can be found from teacher’s own working and teaching community. Discussing and reflecting one’s teaching with peers is done to openly share ideas and materials reciprocally and learn from others. Significant discussions with peers also enable the teachers to discuss their emotions related to teaching. According to the teachers, emotions are important in how they experience themselves as teachers and how they experience their pedagogical competency. There were positive emotions, such as, enthusiasm and motivation to teach, experiencing joy when succeeding in teaching and experiencing teaching being rewarding, that were experienced to strengthen their experience of their pedagogical competency. There were also negative emotions, such as, frustration, anxiety, nervousness, being burdened and feeling inadequacy as a teacher, that were experienced to encourage the teachers to further develop their teaching and their pedagogical competency. Many experienced their teaching community being positive and open to discuss emotions, whether positive or negative. Some mentioned their teaching community being quite neutral: discussing one’s emotions is not denied, but not encouraged either. In addition, in some teaching communities, a lack of discussion culture was experienced, and emotions were not discussed. Meaningful social networks and reflection partners can also be found outside one’s immediate teaching community, for example, via participation to teaching development project. The significance of multi‐disciplinary peer groups during the development project, however, depends on the teachers’ attitude. The results are reflected in theoretical and practical viewpoints, and implications will be presented in this presentation.
Ashwin, P., Boud, D., Coate, K., Hallett, F., Keane, E., Krause, K., . . . Tooher, M. (2015). Reflective teaching in higher education. London: Bloomsbury Academic. Corbin, J. M., & Strauss, A. L. (2008). Basics of qualitative research (3rd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage. Creswell, J. W. (1994). Research design: Qualitative & quantitative approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Garavan, T. N., & McGuire, D. (2001). Competencies and workplace learning: Some reflections on the rhetoric and the reality. Journal of Workplace Learning, 13(4), 144-164. doi:10.1108/13665620110391097 Gibbs, G. R. (2007). Analyzing qualitative data. London, England: Sage Publ. doi:10.4135/9781849208574 Isopahkala-Bouret, U. (2008). Asiantuntijuus kokemuksena [Expertise as an experience]. Aikuiskasvatus, 28(2), 84–93. Retrieved from http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:ELE-1432128 Merriam, B. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M., & Saldaña, J. (2014). Qualitative data analysis: A methods sourcebook (3rd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage. Pekkarinen, V., & Hirsto, L. (2017). University lecturers’ experiences of and reflections on the development of their pedagogical competency. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 61(6), 735-753. doi:10.1080/00313831.2016.1188148 Pekrun, R., Frenzel, A. C., Götz, T., & Perry, R. P. (2007). The control-value theory of achievement emotions: An integrative approach to emotions in education. In P. Schutz, & R. Pekrun (Eds.), Emotion in education (pp. 13 - 36). Burlington, MA: Academic Press. Pyörälä, E., Hirsto, L., Toom, A., Myyry, L., & Lindblom-Ylänne, S. (2015). Significant networks and meaningful conversations observed in the first-round applicants for the teachers' academy at a research-intensive university. International Journal for Academic Development, 20(2), 150-162. doi:10.1080/1360144X.2015.1029484 Roxå, T., & Mårtensson, K. (2009). Significant conversations and significant networks - exploring the backstage of the teaching arena. Studies in Higher Education, 34(5), 547-559. doi:10.1080/03075070802597200 Sandberg, J. (2000). Understanding human competence at work: An interpretative approach. The Academy of Management Journal, 43(1), 9-25. doi:10.2307/1556383 Tynjälä, P., Virtanen, A., Klemola, U., Kostiainen, E., & Rasku-Puttonen, H. (2016). Developing social competence and other generic skills in teacher education: Applying the model of integrative pedagogy. European Journal of Teacher Education, 39(3), 368-387. doi:10.1080/02619768.2016.1171314 Uitto, M., Kaunisto, S., Syrjälä, L., & Estola, E. (2015). Silenced truths: Relational and emotional dimensions of a beginning teacher's identity as part of the micropolitical context of school. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 59(2), 162-176. doi:10.1080/00313831.2014.904414 Weller, S. (2016). Academic practice: Developing as a professional in higher education. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
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