99 ERC SES 03 M, Research in Higher Education
One of the key factors in the quality of education lies in its teachers (Darling-Hammond et al., 2005; Eurydice, 2013; Hanushek, 2004). In the context in which we live, increasingly digital, with rapid changes and growing social demands (OECD, 2019), the university must strive to design environments that allow its teachers to carry out their work in the best possible conditions, especially those who are new to the profession. Becoming a good teacher is a long process and it is essential to attend teachers from their first years of professional practice to achieve this goal (Ingersoll and Strong, 2011).This is a key stage in that the teacher's identity is built and the basis of his or her teacher model, which will condition his or her personality traits, motivations and attitudes during his or her professional career.
Consequently, caring for their teaching professional development (TPD), specially for newcomers, must become a priority for those in charge, relying on teaching competence frameworks to guide this policy (European Commission, 2018; Halasz, 2019; Manso and Sánchez-Tarazaga, 2018). TPD is a specific area, conceptualized around various phases, of which we highlight here initial teacher training, initiation to the profession and continuous teacher training.
In most cases, university teachers are not required to have any pedagogical accreditation to carry out their teaching duties. There are universities that have already incorporated teacher professional development programmes into their respective agendas (ICED, 2013), but policies are incipient or are reduced to training programmes. Moreover, a recent study on academic staff in Higher Education (European Commission, 2017) shows that there are almost no professional development programmes aimed at improving their teaching competences (including the digital ones). The international literature shows us some weaknesses in DPD within the university panorama, for example: a) proposals with an overly technical focus, which obviates reflective processes (Bascia and Hargeaves, 2000; Knapper, 2013); b) previous experience as students in their discipline (Barnett and Di Napoli, 2008; Lortie, 1975); c) teachers’ beliefs, which act as a filter in the incorporation of teaching competences (Kane et al., 2002); d) the greater development of the teacher's research identity (Winberg, 2008).
This confirms what other authors have pointed out (Ávalos, 2007; Vezub, 2011), noting the lack of empirical evidence on teacher professional development policies due to the limited tradition of research, systematisation and evaluation in this field. In this sense, they call for the importance of constituting a comparative line of research in order to build an information base.
Given the relevance and interest of policies on teachers and their professional development in terms of improving educational quality, the following questions arise: What specific actions universities are developing to facilitate the incorporation of their teachers, What policies and strategies emanate from the discourses of international organisations and What relevance do competence frameworks in TPD initiation processes? And finally, Can we offer an initial diagnosis of teacher induction in universities?
With these considerations in mind, the general objective of this project is to investigate the TPD policies of university teachers in the induction phase of the profession, with a special focus on the configuration of their competence profile in an increasingly digital world.
This is a three-year project (2021-2023), which is funded by Jaume I University-Spain in a specific call for young researchers (Code: UJI-A2020-18) and will be carried out mainly from a qualitative perspective. To this end, different voices on this object of study will be taken into account, from supranational bodies, international and national universities, as well as individual participants. The general objective is broken down into the following specific objectives: 1. Analyze educational policies on TPD around the induction period, which include: O1a) Conceptualise the theoretical bases of TPD and induction into teaching. Special attention will be paid to the period 2005-2020, to analyse the possible effects of the European Higher Education Area. (O1b) Carry out an international study that analyses the proposals and discourses maintained by supranational bodies (UNESCO, OECD, EU) regarding the induction period. Their inclusion in the project is explained by their increasingly decisive role in influencing national policies (Furlong, Cochran-Smith and Brennan, 2013). It will be based on a documentary analysis and a systematic review of the literature. 2. Study the policies and processes for incorporating new teachers in Spanish universities and in some countries: O2a) To identify the national induction policies designed by the competent bodies in Spain and in some European and Latin American countries (country level). O2b&c) To study the induction policies and strategies being implemented in a selection of international and Spanish universities. O2d) Define the main components of these programmes in a selection of universities (focus on digital competences frameworks and reflective training). It will be based on case studies (Stake, 1998) and the comparative method (Phillips and Schweisfurth, 2008). 3. To describe the perceptions of the agents involved in the process of induction: O3a) To analyse the beginnings of teaching from the perspective of newcomers, incorporating their voice to describe their perception of the usefulness of competency frameworks and reflective teacher training. O3b) To identify the perception of other agents with a direct relationship with university induction policies. It will be based on focus groups and personal interviews. 4. To elaborate a proposal for university induction policies. The aim is to integrate the different results and conclusions derived from the previous objectives, with the intention of highlighting good practices and making recommendations for the design and implementation of policies for teacher professional development (mainly addressed to Jaume I University).
With this project we want to advance scientific knowledge to overcome a way of thinking, according to which the quality of teaching does not only depend on merit in research and the professional development model has many possibilities for improvement. We also consider the alignment of the project within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (United Nations, 2015), specifically its goal 4, which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. It recognises, for the first time, the need for quality technical, vocational and higher education, including university education. Taken together, these expected results will provide a university policy proposal for the induction process, within the framework of teacher professional development. Our project is based on a need detected in the university system, as can be justified in its background. We believe it will facilitate decision-making in this area and ultimately contribute to the Higher Education quality improvement while strengthening the teaching profession. Besides, involving different universities in this project will be a channel for disseminating our results to other institutions. Furthermore, we want to ensure the sustainability of the social impact of the research results. We consider not only the short and medium-term results, but also the long-term impact. Therefore, in the process and dissemination of the project, we want to take special care of the participation and mobilisation of the knowledge resulting from the collaboration in the project, giving the research an added value by including different voices. Currently, both principal researchers of the project are part of the project team of the project Inclusive Research at the University: knowledge mobilisation and University Social Responsibility (funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Erasmus+) and will be concerned with making effective the knowledge mobilisation strategies in the present project.
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