Influencing teaching and learning microcultures. Academic development in a research-intensive university
Sammanfattning: The focus in this thesis is to explore theoretical perspectives and strategies for academic development, particularly in a research-intensive university. The purpose is to investigate academic development that aims to support and influence individual academic teachers and groups of teachers, in the different social collegial contexts that they work in, here called microcultures. Building on literature focused on organizational learning these microcultures are defined as constituting the meso-level within the university. Previous research shows that effects from teacher training programmes largely depend on how such programmes are valued in the teacher’s professional environment. Furthermore, previous research has shown that local teaching and learning cultures, including norms developed over time, largely influence teachers’ ways of thinking and practising.
In this thesis academic development is explored with a research-intensive Scandinavian university as a case study. The theoretical framework originates from sociocultural and network theory, as well as from organizational and leadership research. The research is presented here in five articles and shows that academic teachers rely on trusting and inspirational conversations about teaching with a few others that constitute the teacher’s significant network. The more the professional context or microculture supports such conversations, the higher the number of significant relations within the workplace. By researching microcultures as a starting point for systematic academic development at the organizational meso-level, the research further suggests that an effective strategy for academic development is to increase the number of significant relations within microcultures, as well as between them. One such strategy that is used and investigated in the case is the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). SoTL can be a quality regulator for the character of the conversations within and between networks and the artefacts produced through SoTL can be used as transferrable objects of locally produced knowledge both within and between microcultures. Finally, local-level leadership is shown to have an impact on the development of microcultures, with results indicating that above all, an internal mandate needs to be established.
By focusing on how academic teachers and leaders are mutually influenced by, and influence, their collegial context, this thesis shows that academic development, taking this into account, has the potential to contribute to organizational learning.
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