Education Development and Leadership in Higher Education: Developing an Effective Institutional Strategy

By Kym Fraser | Go to book overview

6

Alignment and synergy: leadership and education development

Margot Pearson and Chris Trevitt


INTRODUCTION

Much of the discussion about management and leadership in universities in Australia, the USA and the UK has focused on meeting pressures from government for expanded access and participation in higher education, more efficient and effective governance and administration, more accountability, and resource constraints (Scott 1995; Gumport and Sporn 1999; Marginson 1997). A common response to these pressures for change has been to focus on management structures and the restructuring of administration and academic areas (e.g. McNay 1995; Yetton 1997). It is not surprising in this policy environment that within universities and in the literature the focus, even in education development, has been on managing change at the institutional level leading to a prevailing top-down perspective as concluded by Trowler (1998). Even in education development, while there has been a range of initiatives for new activity addressing institutionally derived goals in areas such as improving student access, student support, IT literacy, and career development, many such programmes take place, or are initiated, outside mainstream academic departments (e.g. Slowey 1995; Pitkethley and Prosser 2001; Pearson et al. 2002). The overall effect is to create an impression that significant sustainable innovation and 're-invention' of teaching and learning practice in higher education is more widespread than is necessarily the case.

Encouraging systemic change in the culture of teaching practice so that successful adaptation and innovation is sustained from within academic departments (or schools, henceforth referred to as academic organisational units (AOUs)) is of a different order as argued by Massy and Zemsky (1995), Pearson (1998) and Trowler (1998). The variable success of funded innovation projects and programmes (Weimer and Leinze 1991; Hayden

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