22 SES 04 D, Academic Work and Professional Development
At higher education institutes, teacher professional development activities often focus on beginning teachers. Expert teachers are expected to find their own resources and build their own networks in order to stay up-to-date and to improve their teaching practice. Recognition of university teachers’ expertise and excellence, especially at research-oriented environments, can act as a strong incentive to put effort into improving the quality of teaching. The literature on expertise development provides evidence that expert performers also need to systematically work on their teaching skills and need input for their practice (Sosniak, 2006). Furthermore, research on expert professionals indicates that expert professionals learn in qualitatively different ways than less experienced professionals (Stine-Morrow & Parisi, 2010). For example routine performances are expanded, and more emphasis is put on their students’ cognitive development. This indicates that expert university teachers will benefit from professional development activities which are specially designed for their advantages and challenges. Although the literature provides us with ample knowledge about professional development of novice university teachers, this knowledge is not always applicable to the professional development of exemplary university teachers (Skelton, 2004).
Multidisciplinary teacher groups
Literature on expertise development indicates that expert professionals are helped both by reflection on teaching practice and by providing them with information and innovative ideas (cf. Skelton, 2004). Furthermore, professional development activities for expert university teachers should not only focus on changing the conceptions about teaching and learning, but should put emphasis on how to improve the existing teaching practices or how to improve the skills and abilities which are already present (cf. Dunkin & Precians, 1992). Teachers’ reflections on their practice can be powerful tool to improve teaching and learning (Kane, Sandretto, & Heath, 2004). Reflection about teaching can be done in different ways. Peer discussions, such as teaching discussion groups (Anderson et al., 2011) are recognized as a strong tool in which reflection on teaching practice is incorporated. A multidisciplinary approach to professional development provides a learning environment to scaffold the exchange of and reflection on innovative ideas. Furthermore teaching discussion group meetings in which best practices are exchanged and debated provides a potentially fertile reflective learning environment. Therefore, multidisciplinary meetings expert teachers can widen and deepen university teachers’ pedagogical repertoire from which they select ideas to improve and innovate their teaching practice.
This study aims to improve our understanding of the benefits of multidisciplinary teacher group meetings for expert teachers’ professional development.
Anderson, W.A., Banerjee, U., Drennan, C.L., Elgin, S.C.R., Epstein, I.R., Handelsman, J., et al. (2011). Changing the culture of science education at research universities. Science 331, 152-153. Dunkin, M.J., & Precians, R.P. (1992). Award-winning university teachers’ concepts of teaching. Higher Education, 24, 483-502. Kane, R., Sandretto, S., & Heath C. (2004). An investigation into excellent tertiary teaching: Emphasising reflective practice. Higher Education, 47, 283 - 303 Skelton, A. (2004). Understanding ‘teaching excellence’ in higher education: A critical evaluation of the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme. Studies in Higher Education, 29, 451-468. Sosniak, L.A. (2006). Retrospective interviews in the study of expertise and expert performance. In K.A. Ericson, N. Charness, P.J. Feltovich & R.R. Hoffman. The Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance (pp. 287-302). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Stine-Morrow, E.A.L., & Parisi, J.M. (2010). The adult development of cognition and learning. In P. Peterson, E. Baker & B. McGaw. International Encyclopedia of Educational (3rd ed.) (pp. 225-230). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
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