22 SES 06 C, Academic Work and Professional Development
In the last few years, Higher Education institutions have undergone profound and fundamental changes that have strongly affected perceptions about the very mission of these organisations, the characteristics of the activities they develop, and the results obtained by those working in them. This new scenario is deeply affecting scholars’ professional identity, in addition to their working life and working conditions
Different studies have pointed out a set of changing elements that constitute the new social weave, to which the University also actively contributes. Among them we find: (a) The systems of production, access, disclosure and recognition of knowledge in the post-industrial societies (Lyotard, 1984; Gibbons, et al, 1995). (b) The digitization of information that shifts attention from purposes, values and ideals to "the media and techniques to obtain efficient [optimum] results" (Marshall, 1998:9). (c) The combination of new economical perspectives with the "explosion" of information and communication technologies that are favouring the apparition of new forms of organization for higher education (Hanna and associates, 2000). (d) The generalization of the use of the digital information and communication technologies that enable and demand new ways of teaching and learning, selection, appraisal and interpretation of the information and, therefore, of assessing the process and the results of the learning (Hanna and associates 2000¸ Jochems and others 2004). (f) The characteristics, needs and expectations of new generations of students who are digital natives in front of their analogical (digital immigrant) teachers. (g) The full incorporation of women to a space traditionally reserved for the men (Morley and Walsh, 1996). (h) In Europe, the construction of the European Space for Higher Education (Bologna Declaration). All these changes are putting considerable pressure on higher education institutions and their personnel (Garrison and Anderson, 2003; McIntosh, 2005, Metcalfe, 2006).
However, most studies have been carried out from a structural perspective in which scholars’ views about their working conditions, expectations, and worries are collected through statistic-based questionnaires or not taken into account at all. This is the reason underpinning the research project this paper builds on: The Impact of Social Change in Higher Education Staff Professional Life and Work. (Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación. SEJ2006-01876. 2006-2009), whose main aim is to explore and understand how scholars establish a dialog, resist, adapt themselves or adopt changes and construct their professional identities. The focus of this presentation is the change and the continuity found in the teaching practice of 24 scholars throughout their professional career.
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