22 SES 09 D, Teaching Experiences and Practices
The aim of this paper is to explore and investigate university teachers’ experiences and conceptions of educational development practices and processes in their own teaching and learning environments. University education is facing continuous challenges from societies in the current trends of deepening globalization, economic challenges and changing demands for the future employees in terms of, e.g. digitalization. One of the solutions for educating skilled future experts for the unknown future (cf. Barnett, 2004), is to pay more attention to the processes of education and enhance individualized and student-centered learning environments. This sets demands for the university staff and lecturers, since traditionally the researcher-teachers roles in the university have focused mainly on the dimension of knowing and content expertise. Barnett & Coate (2005) argued that the goal in developing university teaching has been the development of teachers’ skills and competence. However, in university pedagogical literature it seems evident that it is difficult for university teachers to transfer these new skills to their actual working environment if there is not enough support or other similarly oriented teachers in that context. There is also evidence that collegial support and collaboration may facilitate teachers’ learning better than individual endeavors, although the features of the group also matter (Warwick et al., 2016; Vrikki et al., 2017). According to Gibbs (2013) educational development has moved during the last twenty years from focusing almost only on teaching and assessment guidance to seeking to change overall academic practices and policies. Hirsto, Siitari & Ketola (2006, see also Hirsto, 2013) have defined core processes of pedagogical development. These include curriculum work, development of teachers’ skills and knowhow and the strategic process. University teachers’ experiences and perceptions were investigated through a questionnaire in which the theoretically important features of enhancing educational development were included.
The context of this study is provided by an educational development project through which the learning environments were developed by the flipped classroom (FC) and flipped learning (FL) models. FC may serve as a potential way for helping teachers to develop their teaching methods toward more student-centered methods in the university context. In general, the FL design includes the ideas, that instead of teacher led lecturing, the students are provided with online material, mainly videos, before the class time. This way the actual face-to-face meeting can be used for discussion and collaborative activities dealing with the topics presented in the videos (e.g. Stonebraker, 2015). The FL framework fits quite well with the idea of student-centered teaching, learning and studying, and individualized learning opportunities. The participating teachers were to transform their courses to flipped learning design and they were provided three seminars on pedagogical issues of flipped learning, group-based mentoring and peer group mentoring during the development project, and hand-on support for specific issues in designing their own courses in alignment with flipped classroom or flipped learning model of teaching. Teachers (N=94) participating in the educational development project responded to a questionnaire investigating practices and processes of educational development, in which they responded with six-point Likert-scale. The questionnaire was developed for this study and included items on themes (and sum mean variables were constructed accordingly) of strategic educational development (α=.844), collaborative educational development (α=.754), compensation for educational development (α=.852), meaning of educational competence in recruitment processes (α=.890), student-centered educational development (α=.811) and experienced support for individual pedagogical development (α=.805).
University teachers experienced that student-centeredness was included quite well in educational development in their departments (x̄=4.17). Teachers rated also the experienced support for individual pedagogical development to the positive side (x̄=3.71) as well as collaborative educational development (x̄=3.58). A bit more on the negative side were teachers’ experiences of the strategic educational development (x̄=3.35), and more clearly on the negative side are both calculated sum mean variables which were related to rewarding for personal educational development (compensation for educational development (x̄=2.42), and meaning of educational competence in recruitment processes (x̄=2.82)). University teachers’ experiences varied significantly according to their earlier pedagogical training, their disciplinary background and their gender on some of the themes. According to results it seems that university teachers who had less pedagogical training more often thought that the active participation in pedagogical training or educational development projects would lead to compensation in their unit (p<.05). Similar relations was found with the experience of collaborative educational development (p<.05). The various perspectives to results will be discussed through the key processes of educational development and contextual perspectives of developing one’s teaching.
Barnett, R. (2004). Learning for an unknown future. Higher Education Research & Development, 23(3), 247–260. doi:10.1080/0729436042000235382 Barnett, R. & Coate, K. (2005). Engaging the curriculum in higher education. Berkshire, GBR: McGraw-Hill Education. Gibbs, G. (2013). Reflections on the changing nature of educational development, International Journal for Academic Development, 18:1, 4-14, DOI: 10.1080/1360144X.2013.751691 Healey, M. & Jenkins A. (2018). The role of academic developers in embedding high-impact undergraduate research and inquiry in mainstream higher education: twenty years’ reflection. International Journal for Academic Development, 23(1), 52–64 https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2017.1412974 Hirsto, L. (2013). Palautepohjainen opetuksen kehittäminen ja laatu. In Hakala, J. & Kiviniemi, K. Vuorovaikutuksen jännitteitä ja oppimisen säröjä. Aikuispedagogiikan haasteiden äärellä, (pp. 147-162). Hirsto, L. Siitari, S. & Ketola, H-M. (2006). Opetuksen kehittäminen teologisessa tiedekunnassa. Poster presented in PedaForum -päivät, Helsinki, Finland. Pyörälä, E., Hirsto, L., Toom, A. & 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. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2015.1029484 Stonebraker, I. (2015). Flipping the Business Information Literacy Classroom: Redesign, Implementation, and Assessment of a Case Study. Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship 20(4), 283-301. Vrikki, M., Warwick, P., Vermunt, J.D., Mercer, N. & van Halem, N. (2017). Teacher learning in the context of Lesson Study: A video-based analysis of teacher discussions. Teaching and Teacher Education, 61, 211-224 Warwick, P., Vrikki, M., Vermunt, J.D.,Mercer, N. & van Halem, N. (2016). Connecting observations of student and teacher learning: an examination of dialogic processes in Lesson Study discussions in mathematics. ZDM Mathematics Education 48 (4), pp 555–569. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11858-015-0750-z
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