Campus-based Educational Development & Professional Learning: Dimensions & Directions

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Executive Summary—Purposes and Outcomes

Why might educational development or professional learning be supported by post-secondary institutions?

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To respond to this question, we synthesize composite purposes and outcomes that emerged from the data provided by the comprehensive range of British Columbia public post-secondary institutions participating in this campus-based educational development and professional learning study. Institutions that implement teaching and learning enhancement initiatives will benefit in differing ways. Institutional context, mandate and vision will influence the specific structures and practices of campus-based educational development and professional learning programs.

Enhancing high quality learning environments with engaging learning experiences in which post-secondary learners achieve significant learning outcomes

Enhancing high quality learning environments is the over-arching purpose for all educational development initiatives. To accomplish this purpose, educational consultants most often work directly with post-secondary administrators, staff and faculty, who then work directly with learners.

Providing preliminary support as newly minted faculty members launch their post-secondary teaching careers

New faculty members may be veterans of industry or the workplace who are transitioning into academic careers, younger faculty who have completed academic degrees often with limited teaching experience, or they may be those who have extensive teaching experiences in the K-12 system or in community teaching roles. Whatever their prior experiences, the transition into post-secondary academic teaching may be an eye-opening and even traumatic experience. Educational consultants provide guidance and models during these early stages of the academic career to enhance an educator’s transition into post-secondary teaching and learning responsibilities.

Providing catalysts and challenges for mid-career faculty members

Mid-career educators may have effectively mastered the preliminary responsibilities and practices for the post-secondary teaching environment and are now seeking ways to further enhance their capabilities. Educational development consultants encourage and support mid-career faculty by offering them opportunities to share literature on teaching and learning in higher education, research their classroom practices, or share their emerging teaching and learning strengths through conference sessions or institutional workshops.

Providing venues for veteran faculty members to share their wisdom of practice

Leaving a legacy is often a consideration of those in advanced career stages. Sharing the learning and wisdom garnered from many years of extensive teaching and learning experiences, perhaps through mentoring programs, may be coordinated through a teaching and learning centre. Faculty Associate roles offer opportunities for mid-career and veteran faculty members to share their knowledge of effective teaching and learning practices with colleagues.

Coordinating or partnering to provide a range of cross-career support for administrators and support staff

Institutional mandates for professional learning may be inclusive of all within the institution and therefore many educational developers are actively involved with relevant leadership or career advancement initiatives for administrators and support staff, as well as for faculty members.

Providing or coordinating teaching and learning support directly needed by students

Several of the participating institutions define the mandate of educational developers as inclusive of student needs that are specifically related to teaching and learning. Therefore, student support services such as Writing Centres, Math Centres or Graduate Teaching Assistant programs are being integrated within educational development centres.

Participating actively in a range of institutional strategic planning processes and initiatives

Many educational developers network with their colleagues within British Columbia, across Canada and internationally. Therefore, they have access to relevant teaching and learning innovations and approaches that may effectively inform institutional strategic planning. Learning consultants provide timely reviews of alternative practices, challenges to existing processes, and syntheses of relevant teaching and learning literature.

Promoting the significance of teaching and learning initiatives within and beyond the institution

A significant and often escalating factor influencing institutional culture is the perceived tension between research and teaching. To move beyond this tension, educational consultants offer perspectives and expertise for establishing the nexus between teaching and research while encouraging initiatives that value and reward teaching. Educational developers provide institutional, provincial, national and international leadership on a range of teaching, learning and research initiatives.

Partnering with or coordinating curriculum development, program review, Senate or Education Council program or course review processes

Educational consultants may provide expertise and a network to effectively support, implement or enhance curriculum review and (re)development processes as well as provide expertise during the Senate or Educational Council program and course approval processes.

Providing leadership for institutional teaching and learning initiatives

Educational consultants offer expertise and leadership for developing, evaluating, and monitoring institutionally mandated initiatives designed to enhance the teaching and learning environment and perhaps challenge existing practices. They may provide expertise and leadership to institutional teaching and learning initiatives, such as Internationalizing the Curriculum, Aboriginal Education, Learning Outcomes and E-Learning initiatives.

Encouraging inter- or cross-disciplinary approaches that explore common ground and differences

Inter- and cross-disciplinary discussions about teaching and learning questions often evoke realizations of common ground and shared dilemmas as well as substantive disciplinary differences in, for example, key learning concepts and approaches. Learning consultants may create opportunities for these types of inter- or cross-disciplinary explorations.

Honouring discipline-specific teaching and learning approaches

While there are many shared practices across disciplines, there are educational concepts and ways of organizing learning that tend to be discipline-specific. Educational consultants may help structure this focus on pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 2004a) and signature pedagogies (Gurung, Chick & Haynie, 2009).

Encouraging reflection and research on teaching and learning

Cogent and thorough syntheses of national and international research on post-secondary teaching and learning identify emerging research questions and distil effective practices. One example is the edited text of Julia Christensen Hughes & Joy Mighty (2010) Taking Stock: Research on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Ready access to this evolving research literature is enhanced through online and print journals, such as Transformative Dialogues, the Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and Teaching & Learning Inquiry: The ISSoTL Journal, among many fine higher education teaching and learning publications. Educational consultants initiate opportunities for higher education personnel to delve into this research literature and to reflect on applications within specific disciplinary or cross-disciplinary teaching and learning contexts. Learning consultants may encourage and support individual and collective action research or scholarly investigations to examine classroom teaching and learning dilemmas and successes.

Navigating the Study

To assist your investigation of campus-based educational development and professional learning, this report may be read chronologically or as free-standing chapters. The report begins with definitions of key terms, followed by a précis of research methodology to establish the context for data gathering, analysis and synthesis. Next, a conceptual framework is presented that synthesizes key dimensions of campus-based educational development.

Subsequent chapters provide detailed examinations of structures of educational development: models and staffing, director’s roles, reporting lines, advisory committees, personnel and faculty associate models, funding, and physical location of educational development units.

The report then examines educational development practices: mandate, needs assessment, priorities and planning approaches, educational development initiatives, professional development specifically for administrators and staff, professional learning networks, communication, and evaluation of programs.

Specific directions influencing the future shape of educational development are then investigated, including consultation and mentoring, e-learning, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and leadership for learning. Emerging directions and dilemmas are outlined that create future avenues for applications of research to enhance professional learning.


Key Terms—Naming the Rose

Study Design

Purpose

Selection of Study Participants

Research Design

Research Methodology

Study Limitations

Key Terms—Naming the Rose

Study Design

Purpose

Selection of Study Participants

Research Design

Research Methodology

Study Limitations