06 SES 02 B, Learning with Media in Higher Education
In the last years, international bodies such as the OECD (Hénard & Roseveare, 2012), the High-Level Group on the Modernization of Higher Education (McAleese et al., 2013) and the European ministries participating in the Yerevan Communiqué (EHEA, 2015) underlined the need to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the Higher Education context through specific faculty professional development policies and initiatives, also linked to digital technologies (EHEA, 2015). Recent literature reviews on faculty development programs (Amundsen & Wilson, 2012; Meyer, 2014; Phuong, Cole & Zarestky, 2018; Stes et al., 2010) highlighted the necessity of new approaches to faculty professional development. In fact, existing programs are commonly based on short-term activities, such as workshops, seminars or conferences which do not require large investments. Unfortunately, such approaches proved to be ineffective in terms of long-time impact, as they do not allow teachers’ active engagement and do not support reflection on their current practices and transformation of views and beliefs. As highlighted by several theories of change (Fullan, 1982; Ho, Watkins, & Kelly, 2001), there is a complex relationship between teachers’ perceptions and practices: as for ICT, some studies underlined that teachers’ views and knowledge are relevant in the choice of whether or not to use digital technologies for teaching (Gobbo & Girardi, 2001). Moreover, Clarke and Hollingsworth (2002) suggested that professional growth is the result of the interconnection of different factors: in addition to personal attitudes and beliefs, it is important also to consider the role of the institution in supporting the process through recognition and organizational change.
Taking into account the literature recommendations on faculty professional development (Meyer, 2014), the University of Florence established in 2016-2017 the DIDe-L program (“Didattica in e-learning”, Pedagogical methods for e-learning), an faculty development program aimed at improving teaching and learning practices through technology. The program is based on a partnership between the Department of Education and Psychology and the University Center for Telematics Services (SIAF) and utilizes an integrated approach, including different types of training, combining face-to-face initiatives with an online learning environment, and different levels such as individual, community and social dimensions (Ranieri et al., 2017). Among these components, a service called “e-Learning Desk” (Se-L) was settled up in order to provide teachers an individualized support for designing and implementing online teaching practices. Through the sharing of the emerging teaching issues, the teachers were accompanied by an instructional designer in the elaboration of possible solutions to be implemented through the institutional e-learning platform. As known, coaching could be defined as “a one-to-one process of helping others to improve, to grow and to get to a higher level of performance, by providing focused feedback, encouragement and raising awareness” (Pousa & Mathieu, 2010, p. 34). In this strategy, the possibility of generating a long-term change is thus connected with the establishment of a support relationship between the coach and the coachee, the identification of problems and possible solutions, a constant process of ongoing feedback and reflection (Giglio et al., 1998). This chapter explores the potential of instructional coaching as a method of faculty professional development with reference to the effective implementation of the negotiated project hypotheses and the exploration of teachers’ reactions to this approach.
After a pilot phase in 2017, Se-L was fully implemented in 2018, offering weekly individual appointment to the teachers of all departments. The service has been monitored after the first semester of 2018, in order to evaluate the effectiveness of its approach. A questionnaire was administered online to all the teachers and collaborators who participated in at least one of the DIDeL project training activities, including face to face events and online self-learning environment (Catelani et al., 2018). The questionnaire was organized into four sections, each of which analyzed a specific type of training action: as for Se-L, the survey covered the following dimensions (answers were on scale 1-5, where 1=totally disagree and 5= totally agree): - Perception of efficacy: is aimed at detecting teachers’ feedback with regard to coaching and the perceived impact on teaching practices and general satisfaction; - Perception of improved capacity: asks the teacher to evaluate his / her level of ability in applying the knowledge and skills acquired as a result of the coaching process; - Level of implementation of the negotiated hypothesis and further needs to fully realize it. The survey opened during the summer and ended at the beginning of September 2018: for Se-L the link to participate was sent to all teachers who attended at least a session in 2017-2018 (N=57), and 51 responses were collected, with a response rate of 89%. Answers were analyzed with descriptive statistics.
The overall level of satisfaction towards the Se-L service resulted very high. Teachers considered it useful both for the design and for the implementation of the activities (Se-L was useful: “for planning activities” mean 4.57, “for the implementation of the activities” mean 4.43). Specifically, the coaching methodology was judged as effective to respond to concrete needs and to acquire knowledge on e-learning (respectively mean 4.59 and 4.57). As for the efficacy of the coaching process and the e-learning experimentation in terms of change, teachers agreed that this approach stimulated them to rethink their teaching practices (mean 4.08). Teachers were asked to assess the level of implementation of the hypothesis designed with the support of the coach: 90% of respondents declared to have implemented the online activities, partially (57%) or totally (33%). As for aspects that may have prevented or limited the implementation and experimentation of the e-learning solutions, teachers overwhelmingly stressed the need to have more time (70 %), asked for greater support, both on technical (30%) and methodological aspects (20%) and expressed the need to formal recognition for online teaching, through a system of institutional incentives (18%). These data provide some insight to reflect on potentialities and limits of the coaching service for instructional design. As mentioned, the changing process of teaching practice requires the combination of several factors: Se-L service seems to be a trigger element but coaching and support should be extensively provided throughout the process of experimentation, further sustaining reflective processes. It also emerges that professional development requires organizational change: the improvement of teaching and learning could not be considered as a prerogative of teachers, and institutions should facilitate it through specific initiatives and policies.
Amundsen, C., & Wilson, M. (2012). Are We Asking the Right Questions? A Conceptual Review of the Educational Development Literature in Higher Education. Review of Educational Research, 82(1), 90–126. Clarke, D., & Hollingsworth, H. (2002). Elaborating a model of teacher professional growth. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18(8), 947–967. Catelani M., Formiconi A.R., Ranieri M., Pezzati F., Gallo, F., Renzini, G., Bruni I. (2018), Formare all’e-learning all’università. I risultati del progetto DIDeL. Education Sciences & Society, 9(2). EHEA - European Higher Education Area (2015). Yerevan Communiqué. Yerevan. Fullan, M. (1982). The meaning of educational change. New York: Teachers College Press. Giglio, L., Diamante, T., & Urban, J. M. (1998). Coaching a leader: leveraging change at the top. Journal of Management Development, 17(2), 93–105. Gobbo, C., & Girardi, M. (2001). Teachers’ beliefs and integration of information and communications technology in Italian schools. Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education, 10(1/2), 63–85. Hénard, F., & Roseveare, D. (2012). Fostering Quality Teaching in Higher Education: Policies and Practices. Paris: OECD. Ho, A., Watkins, D., & Kelly, M. (2001). The conceptual change approach to improving teaching and learning: an evaluation of a Hong Kong staff development programme. Higher Education, 42(2), 143–169. McAleese, M., Bladh, A., Berger, V., Bode, C., Muelhfeit, J., Petrin, T., Schiesaro, A., & Tsoukalis, L. (2013). Report to the European Commission on ‘Improving the quality of teaching and learning in Europe’s higher education institutions. Brussels: Belgium. Meyer, K. A. (2014). An analysis of the research on faculty development for online teaching and identification of new directions. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(4), 93-112. Phuong, T. T., Cole, S. C., & Zarestky, J. (2018). A systematic literature review of faculty development for teacher educators. Higher Education Research and Development, 37(2), 373-389. Pousa, C., & Matthieu, A. (2014). Boosting customer-orientation through coaching: a Canadian study. International Journal of Bank Marketing, 32(1), 60–81. Ranieri, M., Pezzati, F., Raffaghelli, J. E. (2017). Towards a model of faculty development in the digital age. The DIDE-L program's case. In Proceedings of the 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference, Valencia, Spain, March 6th-8th, 2017, IATED Academy, pp. 5094-5102. Stes, A., Min-Leliveld, M., Gijbels, D. & Van Petegem, P. (2010). The impact of instructional development in higher education: The state-of-the-art of the research. Educational Research Review, 5(1), 25–49.
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Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
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