NW 22 Research in Higher Education: Pedagogical Practices in Higher Education in the aftermath of Bologna Process

Pedagogical Practices in Higher Education in the aftermath of Bologna Process

Pedagogical practices in higher education have been the object of significant attention across Europe in the last two decades, as significant changes in teaching and learning processes have been encouraged in many countries by the Bologna Process. These changes have had a considerable impact on teachers’ work, but this has not been extensively explored within the field of research into higher education. Being so, this special call focuses academic teaching work, envisaging to gather papers from various European regions in order to further understand curricular and pedagogical practices, as well as teachers’ processes of professional development.

The Call
Pedagogical practices in higher education have been intensely discussed across Europe, namely taking into account the implications of the framework of the Bologna Declaration in 1999 that lead to the idea of creating the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) until 2010. Aiming at an harmonization of Higher Education curricular and pedagogical practices, this framework might be featured, at least in some parts of Europe, as a genuine Copernican revolution in teaching and learning processes, which has had a considerable impact on teachers’ work.

Bologna established the idea according to which higher education students should not only be the main target of teaching, but also the active builders of their own learning processes. To this end, it explicitly stipulated abandoning an old system of passive education based exclusively on the acquisition of knowledge, in order to invest in the overall activity and skills students should acquire. The emphasis shifted to the capacity teachers should display in projecting and responding to the educational needs of students.

Within this context, several recommendations have been issued from European governments, as well as from various international bodies (see for instance Inamorato dos Santos et all., 2019), highlighting a consensus on the need to strengthen teacher training supply and produce further knowledge on teaching work itself (Alves, 2020). In fact, the quality of higher education has been extensively debated and the need to improve the thinking and skills of teachers is now recognized as an essential task (Postareff et al., 2007; Esteves 2010; Kwiek, 2019). It is also a fact that many initiatives have been proposed for higher education institutions to develop concrete actions for the professional development of teachers (Saroyan & Frenay 2010).

However, a number of authors have noted that those initiatives are still insufficiently informed by solid studies on teaching in the context of higher education and that more research is needed (Gibbs & Coffey 2004; Pickering 2006; Čirić, 2016; Ó et all. 2019). In fact, studies on academics seem to be few, and when they do exist, a focus on their respective research activities is favored, while matters related to teaching remain largely neglected (Tight, 2019).

Thus, this special call for papers intends to focus on academic teaching work hoping to gather papers from various European regions, envisaging that contributions might address a diversity of issues, such as:

  • examination of orientations emanating from political actors (at supranational/international, national, institutional) both on the curricular and pedagogical practices of teachers and on the support for the processes of teachers’ professional development;
  • exploring how the guidelines issued by public authorities are received and translated locally, namely in the production of guidelines and strategies within higher education institutions about curricular and pedagogical practices and in what concerns teacher’s professional development;
  • characterizing curricular and pedagogical conceptions and practices of teachers, as well as their strategies in the (re)configuration of these conceptions and teaching practices along their professional path.

Contact Person(s)
Mariana Gaio Alves, UIDEF, Instituto de Educação, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal (mga(at)ie.ulisboa.pt)

Alves, M. G. (2020). A (in)visibilidade do trabalho docente dos académicos. TMQ – Techniques, Methodologies and Quality, Número Especial – Processo de Bolonha, 2020, 69-88.

Čirić, N. (2016) Overview of Didactic Methodical Organization of University Teaching by Bologna Concept of Higher Education. Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems 14(1), 52-60.

Esteves, M. (2010). Sentidos da Inovação Pedagógica no Ensino Superior. In Carlinda Leite (org.). Sentidos da Pedagogia no Ensino Superior. Porto: CIIE/LIVPSIC.

Gibbs, G. & Coffey, M. (2004). The impact of training university teachers on their teaching skills, their approach to teaching and the approach to learning of their students. Active Learning in Higher Education 5(1), 87-100.

Inamorato dos Santos, A., Gausas, A., Mackeviciute, R., Jotaytyte, A., & Martinaitis, Z. (2019). Innovating Professional Development in Higher Education: an analysis of practices. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

Kwiek, M. (2019). Changing European Academics - a comparative study of social stratification, work patterns and research productivity. London and New York: Routledge.

Ó, J. R., Almeida, M., Viana, J., Sanches, T., & Paz, A. (2019). Tendências recentes da investigação internacional sobre pedagogia do ensino superior: uma revisão de literatura. Revista Lusófona de Educação 45, 201-217.

Pickering, A. M. (2006). Learning about University Teaching: Reflections on a Research Study Investigating Influences for Change. Teaching in Higher Education 11 (3), 319–335.

Postareff, L., Lindblom-Ylänne, S. & Nevgi, A. (2007). The Effect of Pedagogical Training on Teaching in Higher Education. Teaching and Teacher Education 23, 557–571.

Saroyan, A. & Frenay, M. (2010). Building teaching capacities in higher education: A comprehensive international model. Sterling Virginia: Stylus.


Tight, M. (2019). Higher Education research. The Developing Field. London: Bloomsbury

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Interview with Link Convenor 2019