Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

Educational Developers' Experiences of Negative Faculty Attitudes towards Teaching and Development - an International Survey

Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

Educational Developers' Experiences of Negative Faculty Attitudes towards Teaching and Development - an International Survey

Article excerpt

Only a few decades ago, the Humboldtian ideal of the inter-relationship between research and education was what can be described as symmetric: ehte research coupled with elite education for the few. Today this relationship has become highly asymmetric in many parts of the world: highly competition-driven research is now conducted under the same roof as mass education, with the two often being carried out by the same staff (Enders, 2007; Trow, 2000,2006). Parallel to these developments, higher education has seen the advent of a now dominant student and learning-centered paradigm. In line with this, mission and vision statements and pohcy on all levels have been designed to encompass these new ideological and economic reahties. These changes may fundamentally be structural and institutional but are also embodied in the individual teachers/researchers and their work (Becher & Trowler, 2001: 147-149; Gappa, et al, 2005; Vardi, 2009). A teacher and researcher might find such a situation conflicting. In the present day, a person entering into an academic career with research as their primary motivation is often expected to solve new and complex pedagogical problems with limited help from existing traditions and experiences. Furthermore, and most importantly, they are expected to enjoy this and appreciate teaching. If this is not the case, if a teacher for some reason dislikes teaching or the interaction with students at one point or another, the now dominant discourse demands that this should not be revealed (Cf Irvine, 2012).

In relation to this, students experience a range of interpersonal relationships with their teachers, that are known to affect their learning. In this context, the attitudes, emotions and normative values of individual teachers are of great importance, but have only received limited attention in academic research (Sutton & Wheatley, 2003; Trigwell, 2012; Hagenauer & Volet, 2014). The same notion applies to the hterature on educational development effectiveness, in which a positive attitude to teaching and willingness to change is arguably often assumed (Cf. Prebble et al., 2004; Stes et al., 2010; Amundsen & Wilson, 2012). In light of this, we suggest that individual resistance to educational change on emotive or normative grounds is a field that deserves more attention.

Emotions and Normative Values - Exploring the Negatives

In an earher study, we examined some aspects of teachers/researchers' emotions and normative values through a series of in-depth interviews with Swedish lecturers (Schwieler & Ekecrantz, 2011). However, some of the potential paradoxes and tensions of being both a researcher and a teacher in a changing higher education landscape can be seen as universal. In the present study, we wish to explore this phenomenon further through the eyes of experienced researchers/teachers in eight countries who are presently working as educational de- velopers. In this capacity, they have had apt opportunity to observe, interact and discuss with faculty in trying to make sense of the aforementioned learner-centered discourse, making for a unique set of experiences of an otherwise highly elusive object of study.

In higher education research there is a strong tradition of exploring positive examples and the literature about so-called 'best practice' is substantial, in which practitioners often research their own innovations. This has generated a large body of literature in the form of systematically documented successful practices, but considerably less has been done on what does not work and why. Another area focusing on positive examples is research on award-winning teachers, sometimes coupled with the idea that mimicking successful practices is a way to improve teaching (e.g. Bain, 2004). In Hattie's (2009) vast synthesis of more than 800 meta-analyses, the 'teacher-student relationship' is ranked 11th out of 138 factors related to student achievement. This conclusion was primarily based on Cornelius-White's (2007) meta-analysis of 119 studies at all levels of education. …

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