22 SES 03 A, Internationalizing Higher Education: Academic engagement
In the paper, we will present a multiple case study of Czech excellent academic who returned to a Czech academic institution from a long-term academic engagement abroad. The main objectives of the study are twofold: We will explore the ways in which the academics perceived benefits and challenges 1) of their international academic experience and 2) of coming back to an academic institution in their home country. Conceptually, the study is based on systemic approach to the development of high potential (Mudrák, 2015; Ziegler & Phillipson, 2012), which focuses on the interplay between the “acting individual and the environment with which he/she interacts in his/her actions” (Ziegler & Phillipson, 2012, p. 17). The systemic approach appears to be particularly suitable for our analysis as it integrates both individual and social influences into a complex developmental model. Specifically, the extant research (Diprete, Eirich, 2006; Ericsson, Roring, Nandagopal, 2009; Merton, 1988; Mudrák, Zábrodská, 2015; Papierno et al., 2005; Sternberg, 2001) indicates that a complex analysis of the development towards academic excellence needs to consider interrelationship and mutual influence between social environments providing proximal developmental context and characteristics of developing individuals, namely their academic outcomes, academic practice, and achievement motivation. We will approach both our objectives within this systemic framework, i.e., we will discuss the perspective of the participating academics on the ways in which the international engagement affected their academic practice, outcomes and motivation and how they were able to transfer this experience into the context of a Czech academic institution.
Methodologically, the paper is based on a multiple case study design. It is a part of a large-scale qualitative study into the experiences of Czech (excellent) academics with their current work environment at Czech universities and the ways in which these work conditions affect the development of their academic careers. Overall, we have collected over 120 in-depth interviews with Czech academics from all disciplines; in this paper we will use a selected sub-sample of excellent academics that have returned to a Czech academic institution after an extensive international academic experience. The interviews have been recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) which is a flexible qualitative analytical method that allows identification of major themes or patterns in participants’ experiences. On this basis, we currently develop a multiple-case study from which we create “a theoretical generalization”, grounded in the results of particular case studies (Stake, 2006), about the impact of the international experience on the on the career development of excellent academics returning to a home institution. This will be interpreted in the framework of the systemic model of high achievement development as well as a broader context of Czech academic governance.
In the time of submitting the abstract, the analysis of the interviews has been still ongoing. However, on the basis of the preliminary analysis we expect that our findings will illustrate the competitive advantages of the international academic experiences for the returning academics which include a membership in international networks, access to extensive academic resources, “mastery of the craft”, or development of tacit knowledge about how international science works. At the same time, we will show that successful return of these academics to a home institution and transferring of their academic skills into the Czech context closely depended on a fit between the returning academic and the institution. In some cases, the Czech academic institutions embraced the returning academics as an opportunity to enhance their productivity and academic credentials whereas in other cases the returning academics appeared to be perceived as a threat to the status quo and even ostracized. We will position these findings in the context of current transformation of the Czech higher education governance from a “professor-oriented” to a “market” model (Shin, Jung, 2014).
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