Leading institutional change through learning and teaching communities

Newman, Tara and McDonald, Jacquelin and Partridge, Helen and Jolly, Lesley and Sheppard, Karen (2015) Leading institutional change through learning and teaching communities. In: 12th Annual Conference of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL2015), 27-30 Oct 2015, Melbourne, Australia.

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Abstract

The potential for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) initiatives to influence practice has been an important issue explored throughout the literature since Boyer’s early discussions on scholarship. While it is now generally accepted that individual inquiry and reflection into teaching and learning issues can positively impact one’s practice, the interest in SoTL has shifted from individual scholarship to wider contexts. In recent years, academic developers and leaders have expressed a desire to better understand how SoTL initiatives can be successfully implemented and embedded at the institutional level as a strategy to not only influence individuals’ practice, but contribute to a broader shift in cultural perspectives on teaching and learning.

This paper will discuss recent research on an institutional initiative utilising SoTL as a strategy to simultaneously address staff professional development needs and quality enhancement of learning and teaching. The Learning and Teaching Community Grant Initiative was developed to promote/support learning and teaching initiatives, while investigating and resolving specific educational issues of particular importance to the institution. Key aims of the initiative include:
• the formation of academic communities focused on enhanced Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (Cox, 2004; Wenger, 2014);
• improved educational practice;
• the identification and support of emerging scholars at the institution; and
• broad impact on institutional value of SoTL activities.

In early 2015, three Learning and Teaching Communities were established to enable the University’s academic and professional staff to collaborate on learning and teaching issues. The research focus is on the ‘lived experience’ (VanManen,1990) of participants, using observation, interviews and focus group methodology. The project will conclude with a Most Significant Change (MSC) analysis in which participants will be asked to identify significant change the project made in their lives. They will then share those reflections, and decide as a group on what they count as most significant (Davies & Dart, 2005). This articulation of the process and outcomes to participants provides feedback and builds transformative knowledge, in line with the philosophy of Learning Communities that underpins the initiative (Cox, 2004; Wenger 2014). Data collected is being analysed to provide formative and summative evaluation of the project to determine the implications for future Learning and Teaching Communities as institutional SoTL initiatives.

Preliminary findings of the investigation into the impact of this initiative will be shared. Evidence will be reported regarding:
• effective practices identified for using a SoTL community model as a professional development strategy; and
• indicators of change in the attitudes and behaviors of participants collectively and individually.

These findings will build upon previous work about the potential for learning communities. It is expected that the findings will have practical significance for those striving to enhance practice and promote an institutional culture that recognizes and values SoTL (Furco & Moely, 2012; Schwartz & Haynie, 2013).

To promote audience engagement, participants will have time to:
• reflect on their perspectives in small groups;
• share previous experiences with institutional SoTL initiatives (whole group); and
• participate in a Q&A session with presenters and other participants.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Abstract only published in Proceedings.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Division of Academic Services - Learning and Teaching Support
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2016 01:00
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2017 00:33
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130313 Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators
13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130304 Educational Administration, Management and Leadership
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/28746

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