22 SES 09 D, Teaching Experiences and Practices
While teaching and learning is a core activity in universities, there is little knowledge on those who teach the university teachers and guide their professional development – the academic developers. In this paper, I investigate how academic developers work on challenging and developing teachers’ professional responsibility and how they approach this. As Solbrekke and Heggen (2009) has stated, “professional responsibility” appears to be relatively clear when it comes to a normative mandate at a general level, but becomes more complex in “real world” settings. For teachers, they for instance point out that the pressure to produce the best results in the international comparative competitions “may conflict with the values of inclusion, equivalence and participation for all
students in education” (op.cit. p. 853). The aim of the study is threefold. First, I explore how academic developers frame the development of experienced teachers’ professional responsibility in relation to their teaching and learning practices in higher education (interviews, pre- and post- conversations with academic developers). Second, I investigate how experienced teachers express their professional responsibility as teachers and how attending a course in university pedagogics challenge and contribute to their development of professional responsibility as university teachers (observation and interviews with teachers). Third, the study explores how influenced the formation of teachers professional responsibility is by the academic developers work. Formation refers in this case study to the process of professional change and how individuals are “shaped” and “reshaped” through their experiences and through critical reflection on those experiences in engagement with others (Sutphen & de Lange, 2015).
Attending a course in university pedagogics may help teachers to develop their professional responsibilities and reflect on their goals, attitudes, values, and aspirations and if it aligns with their university’s values and goals (Colby & Sullivan 2008; Sutphen & de Lange, op.cit). But this is not necessarily happening, as we know from research that several elements is crucial when developing as a teacher (Delvin 2006, Handal 2006, Knight 2002, Kreber 2004). The two research questions asked is; how do experienced teachers express their professional responsibility as teachers? Do academic developers’ work in a developmental course in university pedagogics matter and contribute to experienced teachers development of professional responsibility as teachers?
In order to capture how experienced teachers express their professional responsibility and how academic developers’ work in a developmental course in university pedagogics contribute to develop their professional responsibility as teachers, a case-design was selected (Hammersley 2007, Merriam and Tisdell 2016). Yin (2014 p. 16) defines a case study as “an empirical enquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon (the case) within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context may not be clearly evident”. The unit of analysis is a program in university pedagogics for experienced teachers, with a special focus on one particular intervention within this course. The intervention was a focused discussion on their professional development and was filmed and properly analysed after the session had ended). Additionally, the research approach includes document analysis of the course content as well as individual interview with both the experienced teachers (the participants) and the Academic developers (pre- and post- interviews). Field notes were also deployed to capture the detail of the practices and group work that was facilitated. Methodologically, the interventions in the project also follows an interactive deliberative communication approach developed by the research team (Englund 2006). The team of involved researchers and academic developers’ also collaborated across the five included universities (different interventions) within the frames of the larger international project “Formation and competence building of university Academic Developers”. Members in the project team participate with dual roles, both as researchers and practitioners. The project-team combine both ‘insider’ knowledge of academic development at each particular university as well as ‘outsider’ perspectives (from the other involved universities) to critical interrogate the approaches and goals that academic developers may take for granted. The focused interventions in the university pedagogic courses is inspired by action research. According to Herr and Anderson (2015) the goal of action research is to address a specific problem in a practice-based setting, such as an organisation or a program.
The preliminary findings suggests that developing teachers’ professional responsibility mainly relates to three overarching themes as the experienced teachers express it: First; Their responsibility to enhance the quality of their daily teaching obligations. This requires that they balance the concepts of ‘responsibility’ and ‘accountability’ in their teaching contexts, where the formation of professional responsibility takes place in their more complex “real world” settings. Secondly, teachers are highlighting the importance of local “teaching communities” and how they develop their professional development in local teams where they have the opportunity to discuss actual challenges and help each other out with developing their own teaching and other kinds of support. Their development of professional responsibility therefore relates to these local "teaching communities” in order to share responsibilities and collaborate to manage everyday challenges. This increases their awareness and helps them to continue their development in relation to practical matters as well as other aspects of the local and national teaching community. Third, the experienced teachers express that attending a professional course with the opportunities to get critical reflections on professional responsibility has also increased their ideas, attitudes and responsibilities in a much broader sense than their own local teaching practice. They also highlight the opportunity to approach relevant theoretical knowledge about teaching and learning as well as attaining a developmental approach to their teaching and learning practices through critical theoretical reflection with peers.
Benner, P., Sutphen, M., Leonard, V. & Day, L. (2010). Educating nurses: A call for radical transformation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Colby, A. & Sullivan, W.M. (2008) Formation of Professionalism and Purpose: Perspective from the Preparation for the Professions Program: University of St. Thomas Law Journal 5 U. St. Thomas L.J. 404 -427. Di Napoli, R., & Clement, M. (2014). The agency game in academic development: compliance and resistance. International Journal for Academic Development, 19(1), 1-3. Devlin, M. (2006). Challenging accepted wisdom about the place of conceptions of teaching in university teaching improvement. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 18(2), 112–119. Englund, Tomas (2006). Deliberative communication: a pragmatist proposal. Journal of Curriculum Studies 38(5), 503-520. Handal, G. (2006). Kritiske venner. I H. Strømsø, H. K. Lycke, & P. Lauvås (red.), Når læring er det viktigste. Undervisning i høyere utdanning (s. 107–124). Oslo: Cappelen Akademiske Forlag. Knight, P. (2002). A systemic approach to professional development: learning as practice. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18(3), 229–241. Kreber, C. (2004). An analysis of two models of reflection and their implications for educational development. International Journal for Academic Development, 9(1), 29–49. Handal, G, Lycke, K.H., Mårtensson, K.; Rox,å, T. Skodvin. A. & Solbrekke, T.D. (2014) The role of academic developers in transforming Bologna regulations to a national and institutional context. International Journal for Academic Development, 19 (1), 12–25. Hammersley, M. (Ed.). (2007). Academic Research and Evidence-based Practice. Milton Keynes and Thousand Oaks: Open University Press & Sage Publications. Merriam, S.B. and E. Tisdell (2016) Qualitative Research : a guide to design and implementation. 5th ed. Jossey-Bass Solbrekke, T.D. (2007). Understanding Conceptions of Professional Responsibility. Series of dissertations submitted to The Faculty of Education, University of Oslo Solbrekke, T.D., and K.M. Heggen. 2009. Sykepleieansvar – Fra profesjonelt moralsk ansvar til teknisk regnskapsplikt? [A nurse’s responsibility – From professional moral responsibility to technical accountability?]. Arbejdsliv 11, no. 3: 49–61. Yin, R.K. 2014 Case study research Design and methods. (5th ed.)Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
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