The role of the institute for learning and teaching in higher education in supporting professional development in learning and teaching in higher education

  • Published on
    16-Feb-2017

  • View
    215

  • Download
    3

Embed Size (px)

Transcript

  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee]On: 07 October 2014, At: 05:50Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: MortimerHouse, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Teacher Development: An international journal ofteachers' professional developmentPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rtde20

    The role of the institute for learning and teachingin higher education in supporting professionaldevelopment in learning and teaching in highereducationCaroline Bucklow a & Paul Clark aa Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education , York, United KingdomPublished online: 19 Dec 2006.

    To cite this article: Caroline Bucklow & Paul Clark (2000) The role of the institute for learning and teaching in highereducation in supporting professional development in learning and teaching in higher education, Teacher Development: Aninternational journal of teachers' professional development, 4:1, 7-13

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13664530000200101

    PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE

    Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the Content) containedin the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose ofthe Content. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be reliedupon and should be independently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shallnot be liable for any losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and otherliabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to orarising out of the use of the Content.

    This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematicreproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in anyform to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

    http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rtde20http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13664530000200101http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

  • Teacher Development, Volume 4, Number 1, 2000

    7

    The Role of the Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education in Supporting Professional Development in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

    CAROLINE BUCKLOW & PAUL CLARK Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, York, United Kingdom

    ABSTRACT This article explores the concept of professionalism in teaching and the facilitation of learning in United Kingdom higher education. Examination of the sociological literature on professionalism and the activities of currently established professional bodies suggest that the control of standards of performance and control of the right to practise are the defining characteristics. A consideration of the present and projected situation in higher education suggests that regulation by a professional body of the right to practise will become increasingly difficult to implement. However, the articulation of professional standards of performance, for an increasingly varied student population, poses a significant challenge for the membership of the newly created Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (the first professional body created in this area), whose results will benefit both the higher education community and the external stakeholders in higher education.

    The establishment of a professional body for people engaged in teaching and the support of learning in higher education is one of the most challenging outcomes of the Dearing Report (the report of the National Committee of Enquiry into Higher Education, published in 1997, which was the first officially-sponsored systematic examination of higher education in the United Kingdom since the early 1960s) (NCIHE, 1997). The challenge is threefold to engender a sense of common purpose and understanding across the academic and learning support communities as to what it might mean to be a professional in this field, to demonstrate that membership of a professional body is the best means for the community to develop and demonstrate this understanding and, finally, to use this sense of professionalism to ensure high quality in the learning experience of students in higher education.

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f W

    isco

    nsin

    -Milw

    auke

    e] a

    t 05:

    50 0

    7 O

    ctob

    er 2

    014

  • Caroline Bucklow & Paul Clark

    8

    To observers from other professions, these goals might seem laudable if somewhat modest. Early experiences of trying to engage with individuals who might become members of the Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (ILT) suggest, however, that there is little consensus in the higher education sector about what characterises teaching as a professional activity and some suspicion that attempts to professionalise teaching will undermine academic freedom. To understand why this should be so, it is useful to explore the characteristics of recognised professions and to consider the extent to which factors that have led to the establishment of professional bodies to support them are relevant to the current state of higher education in the United Kingdom.

    The concept of a profession is one that has been extensively explored in the sociology literature, with little agreement on how professions may best be defined. Certain themes, however, provide a useful starting point for an exploration of the appropriate role for a professional body for teachers in higher education. These include as characteristics of professionals:

    x the possession of valued expertise; x adherence to standards of practice designed to benefit the recipients of the

    service; and, as a property of the professional group or profession, x the desire and ability to control access to an occupation.

    These elements were summed up by Freidson (1973) as follows:

    Professionalization might be defined as a process by which an organized occupation, usually but not always by making a claim to special esoteric competence and to concern for the quality of its work and its benefits to society, obtains the exclusive right to perform a particular kind of work, control training for and access to it and control the right of determining and evaluating the way the work is performed. (p. 22)

    Mcdonald (1995) emphasises also the aspects of social closure:

    The occupation and its organisation attempt to close access to the occupation, to its knowledge, to its education, training and credentials and to its markets in services and jobs ... Exclusion is aimed ... at the upward social mobility of the whole group. (p. 29)

    On this understanding of professionalism, it can be argued that the transition from an open occupation to a closed profession involves a number of key stages. First, those wishing to establish the profession identify a domain of specialist knowledge and expertise of which they seek to take ownership. Next, the newly defined professionals implement a range of measures that define how others can gain entry to the field. Finally, the profession seeks the acceptance of its claims by the clients for the professional services on offer, or by the state, to provide legitimacy for the profession. Frequently, the measures used to control entry to the profession focus on the establishment of qualifications, which are deemed necessary to practising within the profession. D

    ownl

    oade

    d by

    [U

    nive

    rsity

    of

    Wis

    cons

    in-M

    ilwau

    kee]

    at 0

    5:50

    07

    Oct

    ober

    201

    4

  • THE INSTITUTE FOR LEARNING AND TEACHING IN HE

    9

    Legitimacy is often based on the assertion of some form of public interest that is best served by restricting practice to a group of qualified professionals.

    Teaching in pre-16 education in the United Kingdom already has many of the hallmarks of a profession. There is a clear domain of knowledge relating to the development of learning in children and the associated methods of supporting knowledge acquisition. Access to teaching posts, at least in the state sector, is restricted to those with a recognised teaching qualification. A wide range of stakeholder groups (government, parents, teaching unions, pressure groups) help to legitimise the claims to professional status by reference to the public interest served by keeping education in the hands of the appropriate specialists. In teaching, as in many other professions, the legitimacy accorded by public opinion is supported by legislation and a close (if sometimes uncomfortable) relationship with the state.

    In higher education in the United Kingdom, there is no received view of the requirements of a professional approach to learning and teaching. A different pattern has emerged, which may in some ways be explained by the different expectations of the function of universities as providers of education. As Griffiths (1996) notes:

    the professionalisation of teaching in higher education has always been a difficult concept, with the argument tending to focus on the fact that teaching is only one aspect, however important, of an academics role. Contributors to this debate emphasise the interdependence of teaching and research, and conclude that the two roles should not be separated for the purposes of staff training. The argument is sometimes taken further by those who view research as the most important function of the academics role and see any attempt to raise the profile of teaching as somehow undermining the resources for research. (p. 6)

    This comment highlights the fact that there is already a strong sense in which academics identify themselves as professionals. However, their frame of reference is most often related to their academic discipline and focuses on research and scholarship rather than on the teaching role. This is hardly surprising, given the traditional role of universities in producing graduates destined for a relatively narrow range of professions, together with an elite group of individuals to carry on the academic tradition. It is still less surprising in view of the recent emphasis given to research as the basis for promotion in higher education (driven in turn by the importance of a strong research profile for attracting funding).

    One effect of this focus on the academic discipline has been the acceptance of the implicit assumption that expertise in a professional domain (signalled by possession of a relevant research degree and refereed publications) carries with it the ability to educate others. While the traditional model may have been adequate for an education system designed for a small and relatively homogeneous section of society, it is less successful in addressing the needs of a more disparate student body whose aspirations may depart significantly from the traditional pattern. At the same time, changes in D

    ownl

    oade

    d by

    [U

    nive

    rsity

    of

    Wis

    cons

    in-M

    ilwau

    kee]

    at 0

    5:50

    07

    Oct

    ober

    201

    4

  • Caroline Bucklow & Paul Clark

    10

    the external environment are tending to undermine the ability of the existing academic communities to define and control access to the knowledge domain, which has traditionally been seen as the source of their expertise.

    The United Kingdom higher education system has changed substantially over the last 10 years and these changes have been reported and commented upon in numerous publications (for example, Watson & Taylor, 1998). Amongst the changes are some that express changed expectations of the outputs and processes of higher education and expand the range of demands on pedagogic expertise, moving away from those skills that are immediately allied to research. They also drive the need for higher education teachers to become professionals in all aspects of teaching and learning facilitation. Four of the changes are listed and commented upon as follows:

    x increasing diversity of student profile; x students as clients; x expectations of vocational training in all courses; and x new and different modes of teaching and learning support (using

    communications and information technology [C & IT]).

    The growing diversity of the student profile, and the increased level of delivered satisfaction that paying students will come to expect, imply that higher education teachers will have to understand the range of learning needs and styles in their classes and be able to deliver to them. The concept that students in higher education attend courses to receive whatever concept of education the teacher happens to have in mind will be increasingly less tenable. In particular, the growing requirement that all courses interweave the explicit development of transferable skills with the academic content places new pedagogic demands on many academics, especially the capacity to evaluate students acquisition of skills, to assess them effectively and to deliver remedial support for non-achieving students. Finally, all the processes of teaching, facilitating student learning, recording student progress and communicating with students are being transformed through the increasingly sophisticated application of C & IT.

    As well as changing the processes of education, C & IT is helping to transform conceptions of what the ends of higher education should be and how and by whom it should be delivered. Examples of the types of transformation now coming into view are:

    x student group learning as an everyday activity using proprietary or public networks and Internet-based resources;

    x global delivery to individual students of course material, assessment, tutorial support and student interaction over the Web;

    x ready access for students to enormous ranges of information and learning resources on the Web;

    x outsourcing of all on-line course delivery and administration processes to specialist private companies, leaving only the academic conception and content to be provided by the educator; and D

    ownl

    oade

    d by

    [U

    nive

    rsity

    of

    Wis

    cons

    in-M

    ilwau

    kee]

    at 0

    5:50

    07

    Oct

    ober

    201

    4

  • THE INSTITUTE FOR LEARNING AND TEACHING IN HE

    11

    x investment by private companies.

    It is reasonable to expect that all of these present features of higher education will become increasingly important in future years. None of them look to be decreasing in impact or susceptible to reversal. All of them demand that teachers in higher education become more skilled, master a wider variety of conceptions and techniques of learning facilitation and recognise that the mastery of an academic discipline is only one, and probably not the domina...

Recommended

View more >