Campus-based Educational Development & Professional Learning: Dimensions & Directions
- 1 Executive Summary—Purposes and Outcomes
- 2 Key Terms—Naming the Rose
- 3 Study Design
- 4 Dimensions of Educational Development Structures and Practices
- 5 Dimensions of Educational Development Structures
- 5.1 Teaching and Learning Centre Models
- 5.2 Duration of Current Models
- 5.3 Roles: ED Coordinators and Directors
- 5.4 Reporting Lines
- 5.5 Advisory Committees: Purposes and Composition
- 5.6 Personnel and Faculty Associate Models
- 5.7 Funding
- 5.8 Physical Location
- 6 Dimensions of Educational Development Practices
- 7 Leadership for Learning—Enabling and Limiting Factors
- 7.1 Personal and Professional Credibility
- 7.2 Mentorship by a Senior Administrator
- 7.3 Perceived Institutional and Departmental Impact
- 7.4 Acknowledgement by Faculty Members
- 7.5 Active Visibility and Profile
- 7.6 Barriers and Limiting Factors
- 7.7 Time
- 7.8 Nature of Institutional Culture
- 7.9 Budget Allocations
- 7.10 Need for Dedicated Space
- 7.11 Lack of Consultation or Clarity
- 8 Emerging Directions
- 9 References
Executive Summary—Purposes and Outcomes
Why might educational development or professional learning be supported by post-secondary institutions?
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
Campus-based teaching and learning enhancement initiatives in Canada are demonstrating exciting and challenging growth, which is accompanied by an evolution in terms naming these initiatives: professional development, faculty development, academic development, instructional development, organizational development, educational development and professional learning.
In many ways these terms act as synonyms with similar purposes and they are sometimes used interchangeably. On the other hand, these terms privilege different types of mandates, structures, and actions. While acknowledging that all these terms have strengths and weaknesses, it is important to investigate their implications within the current BC post-secondary environment. What are the differences and similarities? Which ones better fit the context of current outcomes of campus-based post-secondary teaching and learning enhancement initiatives?
Campus-based locates the context for this study within the post-secondary system of universities, institutes and colleges. A multitude of professional development opportunities are offered by off-campus academic and professional organizations and increasingly through online commercial and academic providers, all of which offer potentially valuable learning opportunities. Professional development and teaching and learning practices and literature originating in the K-12 system are bridging to and informing post-secondary investigations. However, the focus of this study is specifically on educational development and professional learning initiatives organized within college, institute and university campuses.
Professional Development (Chism & Whitney, 2005) is an umbrella term, applicable to any career area, which encompasses the processes of obtaining and enhancing capabilities, certifications and experiences that enable professionals to progress in their careers through enhancing both professional and personal capabilities. Within the post-secondary environment, professional development implies the dual notions of the individual taking responsibility for enhancing both personal and professional capabilities as well as the higher education institution providing structure and practices in support of teaching and learning enhancement initiatives. It is the second inference that propels questioning of the term ‘development’ as it may carry the perception of ‘developing others’ within a superficial learning environment (Webster-Wright, 2009). The comprehensive nature of professional development encompasses the entire continuum from transmission to transformative learning opportunities. Depending on the context of participants, there may be need for this full range of learning opportunities. The term also has significant longevity and impact. For example, for more than two decades the post-secondary network from which this research project emanated has applied the concept of professional development in their title: University, College and Institute Professional Development (UCIPD) Committee.
Faculty Development is a traditional term widely evident in the post-secondary professional development literature (Schroeder, 2011; Ouellett, 2010; Gillespie & Robertson, 2010). Faculty development carries the rather delightful impulse of developing one’s faculties or thinking abilities. This term focuses the realm of activity within those designated as faculty members, principally those people within the institution who have direct teaching or teaching-related positions. Faculty development encompasses a significant range including institutional and instructional approaches, curriculum development, assessment strategies as well as personal development. The term accurately describes and defines many campus-based professional development programs as their focus, by mandate, is almost exclusively for those with direct teaching and learning responsibilities. Instructional development is a sub-set of faculty development with a focus on “activities specifically connected to enhancement of teaching” (Wilson, 2012, p. 2). Faculty or instructional development therefore may be perceived as being exclusive, in that administrative and support staff, and those not directly involved in teaching, appear to be excluded or have a much lower priority in determining mandates and priorities. Those institutions where there is a defined and institution-wide mandate for teaching and learning enhancement initiatives often elect to apply a more inclusive term.
Academic Development (Blackmore & Blackwell, 2006) puts the spotlight on the teaching and learning functions of the post-secondary system. One argument in support of this term is that all forms of learning are academic. Therefore, academic development applies to all within an institution of learning. On the other hand, for those universities, institutes and colleges that provide comprehensive programming including applied, vocational, adult basic education, and non-credit programs, the term ‘academic development’ may imply an exclusion of these equally worthy programs.
Organizational Development (Diamond, 2002) encompasses a wider vision of processes related to planned, strategic institutional development designed to enhance the organization’s effectiveness and viability. Organizational development, within the post-secondary environment, most frequently is evident within the strategic academic planning processes that guide short and longer-term decision-making related to teaching and learning issues. As is demonstrated by the findings of this study, post-secondary professional development units increasingly are being located at the centre of organizational and institutional change, due to growing acknowledgement of their institutional expertise relevant to leadership for learning.
Educational Development (Tiberius, 2001) is the term that Canadian professional developers, forming a sub-group caucus of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE), decided to apply to their work. An argument may be made that all development is educational in purpose and action. Educational development subsumes the concepts of faculty, professional, institutional and organizational development and therefore is an encompassing term.
Professional Learning is an emerging term (Webster-Wright, 2009) that highlights the evolution of teaching and learning enhancement initiatives. Professional learning incorporates the growing body of literature describing how people learn (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000; Ramsden, 2008; Kuh et al., 2005a; Entwhistle, 2010). Professional learning is interconnected with the notions of communities of practice which are “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Wenger, 2006). Professional learning focuses on incorporating reflective opportunities, as well as scholarly teaching and learning literature within and across disciplinary communities of practice or faculty learning communities (Cox & Richlin, 2004) to foster individual, group or institutional change processes.
To ‘name the rose’, study researchers will apply the term Educational Development (ED) to centrally organized teaching and learning enhancement initiatives that encompass personal, professional and institutional development. Faculty Development (FD) will signify a narrower focus primarily associated with individual and professional development of faculty members. Professional Development (PD) focuses on personal and career development and is applicable to all across the educational community. Professional Learning (PL) signifies emerging directions towards learning communities and networks. The researchers elected to use these terms to:
- create a longitudinal connection, at the system level, with the 2000 Campus-based Professional Development study (Morrison & Randall, 2000);
- emphasize the ‘big tent’ nature of campus-based initiatives to enhance teaching and learning; and
- acknowledge the evolving nature of campus-based professional learning with a greater emphasis on professional dialogue within and across collegial networks.
Terms to describe the physical and online locus for educational development have many permutations: Learning and Teaching Centre, Centre for Academic Growth, Educational Support and Development Centre, Centre for Academic and Faculty Development, Centre for Instructional Development, and Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning, to identify a few of a very long list of centre titles. For consistency and to respect the confidentiality offered to study participants, study researchers will apply the term Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC), which subsumes both the physical and online identity of educational development units. We acknowledge that the term staff has differing meanings in international contexts. For this study, the term staff is applied to those in roles such as technician and administrative assistant who may not work directly with students but who make immense contributions to the quality of students’ education.
Active educational development-related organizations are operating in the BC and Canadian higher education environments. Acronyms abound. To clarify organizational purposes and names, we have updated an inventory initially created by Alice Macpherson (2011) and include it as Appendix 6.
The primary purpose of this research is to investigate how a comprehensive range of British Columbia (BC) post-secondary institutions implement campus-based educational development or professional learning initiatives. The intent of the study is to gather and share models and concepts to inform institutional and inter-institutional discussions to further enhance educational development and professional learning opportunities available within and across BC post-secondary institutions.
Given that many of the educational development structures and practices examined in this study are evident across Canadian and international campus-based contexts, there may be applicability of these findings well beyond the BC higher education context. As an Open Educational Resource, we encourage further extension and application of the conceptual frameworks and models developed in this study, with attribution as noted in the introductory Acknowledgements section.
Selection of Study Participants
The 25 British Columbia post-secondary publicly funded institutions were invited to participate in the study. Representatives of 21 BC post-secondary colleges, universities and institutes responded to study questions. Individuals participating had full or partial responsibility for organizing campus-based educational development.
Participating institutions reflect the full spectrum of institutional types, sizes and geographic areas in British Columbia. Nine of these institutions are primarily two-year colleges. Two are institutes providing a range of undergraduate and post-graduate programming. Ten participating universities provide undergraduate and graduate programming. Of these ten universities, five provide graduate or doctoral programming and five are primarily undergraduate universities.
Based on institutional website information, approximately twenty percent of the institutions had less than 2,000 full time equivalent (FTE) students. Sixty percent were mid-size institutions with between 2,000 and 10,000 FTE students. About twenty percent were larger institutions with more than 10,000 FTE students. All participating institutions provide e-learning options in addition to their geographic campus base. The 21 British Columbia post-secondary institutions participating in this study are listed in Appendix 1.
The central research question posed is: What are current institutional models for campus-based professional development across the British Columbia post-secondary system?
The study question is informed by a comparative study conducted in British Columbia’s post-secondary system (Morrison & Randall, 2000) and by the experiences of Nancy Randall and Penny Heaslip, the lead researchers of the current study. Both have extensive experience as directors or coordinators of campus-based educational development centres in British Columbia. National and international literature related to post-secondary educational development was consulted.
Study design and questions were reviewed to determine their application in a longitudinal comparison, at the system level, to the British Columbia 2000 campus-based professional development study (Morrison & Randall, 2000). Similar questions were posed in both studies for these dimensions: organization, funding, personnel, reporting lines, mandates, involvement in strategic planning processes, physical and online locations, needs assessment, priority-setting, communication, evaluation processes, PD opportunities for administrators and staff, as well as institutional, regional, national and international PD networks. To investigate educational development directions that emerged more strongly subsequent to the year 2000 study, questions relating to the following areas were added: mentoring, scholarship of teaching and learning, e-learning and leadership for learning. To review the complete set of study questions, please refer to Appendix 2.
The study is a scholarship of educational or academic development inquiry (Haigh & Naidoo, 2007; Brew & Jewell, 2012; Felten et al., 2007) as it is a systematic investigation of ED structures and practices in higher education with the intent of enhancing institutional practices which may ultimately enhance student learning. The study was conducted through an action research data gathering process (Sagor, 2000; Reason & Bradbury, 2006). As action research, the process and outcomes of this research project are intended to be of value to the research participants, and beyond to those engaged in any aspect of post-secondary educational development. The two principal researchers were in the role of “involved observers” (Bell, 2006, p. 54) or as participant-researchers as both had directed higher education teaching and learning centres within the BC post-secondary system prior to commencing this study. The study is within the collaborative action research tradition (Kirby, et al., 2006, p. 31) as the team of researchers worked within the community of British Columbia educational developers. Research participants collaboratively provided an extensive data set which was intended to enrich the learning and professional roles of all participants.
Data gathering and analyses were guided by an interpretivist epistemology (Schütz, 1967) through the principles that the reality we perceive is socially constructed and that we cannot separate ourselves from what we know. The study is framed from an appreciative perspective (Cooperrider, 1990; Bushe, 2001; Cockell & McArthur-Blair, 2012) as an inquiry that illuminates areas of strength, considers issues and dilemmas, as well as identifying developing directions. Development of the educational development dimensions conceptual framework was informed by the dimensions identified in the Morrison and Randall (2000) study as well as the dimensions framework created by the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning undergraduate research consortium, as documented by Beckman and Hensel (2009). Researchers invited study participants, and others engaged in professional learning roles, to review and provide their perspectives on the penultimate version of conceptual frameworks and study outcomes.
During phase 1, research ethics review committees at the University of Northern British Columbia, Vancouver Island University and Thompson Rivers University reviewed and approved study design and questions. Anonymity for all participating institutions and representatives was provided as a component of the research ethics review process.
In phase one, data gathering was implemented through an online data response system. During phase one, eleven institutions provided responses. The research team determined that the online response system worked well for some participants; however, it created barriers for others. Further, it was determined that the eleven institutional responses did not constitute a sufficient sample of the 25 BC post-secondary institutions.
During phase 2, study questions remained identical to those in phase one. A minimal change in data-gathering was requested and approved through the research ethics boards of Vancouver Island University and Thompson Rivers University. The minimal change was that institutional representatives completed their responses on a Word® document and forwarded their responses to the study researchers, who then compiled the full database of responses.
Three participating institutions submitted their data in the latter part of 2009. Eighteen participating institutions submitted their study responses during the 2010 and 2011 academic years. In total, 21 institutions of the 25 BC post-secondary institutions participated. At an 84% response rate, this is considered to be a comprehensive sampling of BC post-secondary institutions, representative of the full range of institutional types, sizes and geographical contexts.
All original data were coded by number. Institutional names and identifiers were removed. The two principal researchers independently analyzed specific questions, reviewing key information and determining emerging patterns. Draft summaries for each question were prepared. Then the two researchers met via online Skype meetings to compare emerging themes and patterns and to analyze more deeply the extensive data set. Several face-to-face meetings were held to review emerging directions.
Lead researchers analyzed data, summarized findings, identified cogent direct quotations, and reviewed the most effective means of visually presenting findings through graphs and word charts. Descriptive categories for the over-arching conceptual framework of educational development dimensions emerged from in-depth analyses of the extensive institutional ED descriptions. At this stage, Diane Morrison, who was co-researcher on the 2000 Campus-based Professional Development study and who has a breadth of knowledge and involvement in professional learning, began to participate in discussions to strengthen the longitudinal aspects of the study. Alice Macpherson of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, who was in the midst of completing an educational development doctoral thesis, offered to share her extensive research on Canadian campus-based faculty development milestones, academic developers as change agents, relevant references, and an inventory of Canadian and international educational development organizations.
Reporting back key purposes and outcomes to study participants resulted in valuable feedback and recommendations that were incorporated into the final study. Six webinars were organized by BCcampus in the SCoPE community (see Appendix 6) with lively feedback from multi-national participants. Participant feedback prompted further clarification of key points. As required by the research ethics review process, original data were destroyed at completion of the research analysis stage.
Three online Skype professional learning sessions were organized at the request of a Ghanaian polytechnic to review the educational development dimensions conceptual framework and the statement of educational development purposes and outcomes. Positive responses to these online discussions provide some evidence that the study may have applications well beyond the British Columbia context.
Context for this study is the British Columbia higher education system. Statistical data are specific to the BC post-secondary system, providing an illustration of current educational development as well as comparative data, where relevant, to the year 2000 campus-based PD study. Statistical data also provide baseline findings for a future longitudinal study, should a similar study be implemented in another decade. Models, conceptual frameworks, flow charts and domain inventories may have applications in other educational settings. Readers are encouraged to consider potential transferability and make decisions about applicability of study models and conceptual frameworks in their own contexts.
Because of research ethics conditions, institutional names and identifiers have been removed. Though this may be seen as a limitation to sharing practices, the benefit is that the focus of this study is on models, conceptual frameworks, and exemplars which do not shift as quickly as specific institutional practices.
The initial online survey method of data collection proved to be a barrier for some participants. However, the minimal change in data gathering to Word document submission enabled a strong and representative sample of participating institutions.
Several of the participating institutions were engaged in significant change processes during and subsequent to the study, and that is reflected in the findings.
This study surveys the state of educational development and professional learning across a post-secondary system and includes data from nine colleges, two institutes, and ten universities, of which five offer undergraduate programs and five also offer graduate or doctoral programs. This may be both a strength and a limitation. The strength is that this study provides a comprehensive overview of the current state and emerging directions of educational development and professional learning at a system level across a matrix of post-secondary institutions. A perceived limitation may be that study findings, across the participating colleges, institutes and universities, are amalgamated. Specific data for each of the institutional types are not reported separately. Researchers considered this potential limitation carefully. The factor of institutional type alone did not determine definitively the shape of educational development and professional learning. Many contextual factors influence a specific institution’s educational development and professional learning initiatives including evidence of commitment to teaching and learning enhancement initiatives, personnel, leadership for learning, budget, size and mandate.
Dimensions of Educational Development Structures and Practices
What are key educational development dimensions? What do these significant elements or dimensions look like in practice? Dimensions of educational development were informed by the campus-based year 2000 study (Morrison & Randall, 2000) along with review of relevant educational development literature (Amundsen et al., 2005; Amundsen & Wilson, 2012; Colbeck et al., 2008; Levinson-Rose & Menges, 1981; Dearn, 2005; Ouellett, 2010; Rice, 2007; Scarfe, 2004; Sorcinelli et al., 2006; Stes et al., 2010; Tiberius, 2001; and Wilcox, 1997). Researchers also consulted academic literature that bridges the K-12 and post-secondary professional development environments, for example, Bransford, Brown & Cocking (2000) and Guskey (2002). The emerging conceptual framework of educational development dimensions was also informed by the researchers’ prior active engagement in post-secondary educational development.
For each educational development dimension, study authors reviewed study findings, identified patterns or categories, and then created descriptions of the range of permutations or stages, as represented in the dimensions of educational development conceptual frameworks (Figures 4.0 and 4.1).
Descriptive categories are weighted equally and any of the descriptive categories may be the better alternative at some point in time for an institution. Where two models are closely linked they are presented in the same descriptive category. Given our multi-faceted institutions, educational development dimensions structures and practices may be located concurrently in more than one of the descriptive categories.
Each of the dimensions receives an in-depth consideration in a subsequent chapter. To ease connection between the individual chapters and the conceptual framework, the specific chapter is recorded in the left hand column of the educational development conceptual framework. Descriptive categories for forms or structures are presented first, followed by functions or practices of educational development.
Discussion: When considering the dimensions of educational development, it may be argued that several of the dimensions, for example consultation and mentoring, have both structure and practice aspects. The researchers decided that consultation and mentoring are primarily relationship-building and therefore best fit in the practices category. For purposes of clarity, the researchers placed each dimension in either the structure or practice framework. However, the complex interconnections of these dimensions are acknowledged. The dimensions conceptual framework is offered to post-secondary educational institutions as a means to map the comprehensive array of educational development structures and practices. It is important to acknowledge that there is no preferred pathway to the ‘perfect’ set of educational development dimensions for any institution. However, consideration of these dimensions may guide current educational development practices and future evolution of post-secondary professional learning. Dimensions and descriptive categories may be applied in:
- mapping the current state;
- identifying gaps;
- investigating alternative models, structures, and practices;
- providing a basis to set future goals for professional learning, and
- recording evolutions over time.
Dimensions of Educational Development Structures
Having introduced a comprehensive framework of key dimensions of educational development, we now will transition to structural organization. We begin with consideration of teaching and learning centre models and personnel adapted from the Morrison and Randall (2000) study.
Teaching and Learning Centre Models
Each reporting institution demonstrates unique and contextualized ways to organize campus-based educational development. Through examining the reported structures, seven distinctive patterns or models of organization emerged. Six of these models are presented in order of increasing support available for coordination and provision of institutional educational development programs, as well as an increasing amount of institutional funding available for ED personnel:
- Volunteer Advisory Committee
- Administrator with 5% ‘off the side of the desk’ Assignment
- Part-time Coordinator
- Full-time Coordinator or Director
- Integrated Team
- Amalgamated Unit
The seventh model represents a decentralized focus on disciplinary teaching and learning environments such as Sciences, Nursing and Medicine or specialized approaches such as Experiential or Integrative Learning or the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines.
Any of these models may be the right choice for organizing institutional professional learning at a certain point in time as influenced by institutional context, mandate, and funding. Distribution across the 21 participating BC colleges, institutes and universities reflects the full range of these seven educational development models, as is demonstrated in Figure 5.1 below.
Volunteer Advisory Committee
Often the initial foundation of campus-based educational development, this model offers the very best of committed, energetic volunteers who are highly engaged with supporting teaching and learning. It may suffer from the opposite side of volunteerism, that is, multiple responsibilities for participants and, at times, disenchantment with the volunteer role. The ED committee may have advisory, decision-making and/or working roles. The ED committee chair is often provided with an honorarium or a course re-assignment. Committee focus is most often on disbursing and monitoring faculty association or institutional professional development funds, or the organization and implementation of a campus-based Professional Development Day.
Administrator with ‘off the side of desk’ Assignment
An administrator, usually with institutional responsibilities aligned with teaching and learning initiatives, may be given or request an assignment in the range of 5% of total administrative time to coordinate institutional professional learning, often working in tandem with a volunteer advisory ED committee. A variation of this model is that of decanal deans organizing disciplinary professional learning, often in concert with departmental committees.
Personnel Example: Advisory Committee comprised of:
- PT Faculty Development Coordinator with one section course re-assignment
- Designated Faculty Representatives
- Manager of Human Resources representing Administration
Most frequently, a faculty member is seconded, assigned or selected to provide leadership, on a part-time basis, for this initial teaching and learning centre model. Institutional funding is usually on an on-going basis, often on a .5 full-time equivalent (FTE) position. Additional institutional support is often provided through a part-time administrative assistant. Particularly for smaller institutions, a significant financial commitment is required to fund a part-time ED coordinator. This step towards base-funded ED coordination enables a much more extensive program of educational development initiatives. The ED coordinator often works in concert with a volunteer advisory committee or with specialized volunteer or seconded Faculty Associates. An innovative approach is that of an Institute for Teaching and Learning chaired by a part-time Coordinator working with a selected group of Teaching Fellows, who receive honoraria as acknowledgement of their expertise and time commitment.
Personnel Example #1:
- .5 FTE ED Coordinator
- 1 FTE Educational Technology Facilitator
Personnel Example #2:
- . 5 FTE ED Coordinator
- 12 Teaching Fellows, with honoraria
Full-time Coordinator or Director
The distinguishing characteristic of this Teaching and Learning Centre model is full-time ED coordination, either one designated person or through shared roles. The Coordinator or Director often works with a full-time administrative assistant, along with an informal or formalized ED advisory committee, as well as one or two full-time Faculty Associates or Teaching and Learning Consultants. This model leads to sustained professional learning initiatives offered over the length of the academic year. This model often offers a physical and/or online presence for a formalized Teaching and Learning Centre.
- Full-time Director
- .25 FTE Research and Scholarly Activity coordinator
- .75 FTE Faculty Development Coordinator
- Full-time Office Manager
The integrated multi-tasking team, usually working with a full-time Director, creates and implements ED initiatives ranging, for example, from curriculum development to scholarly teaching approaches through to educational media design. Staffing for this model of a formalized Teaching and Learning Centre is usually in the 4 to 8 FTE range, including dedicated full-time Administrative Assistants. Team members are selected for specialized expertise, though they often work together as one unit deciding on ED priorities and creating implementation plans. Team members may coordinate and facilitate Instructional Skills Workshops (ISWs) or extended variations of teaching initiation programs. The Director has responsibility for management of PD planning, budgeting and marketing and may be involved, for example, with institutional teaching and learning policy issues and strategic planning. In addition, the integrated team members may provide organizational and administrative support for educational leave committees, facilitate new faculty orientations, develop online or print teaching resources, partner with institutional units such as Writing or Math Centres, and liaise extensively with provincial, national and international teaching and learning organizations.
Personnel Example #1:
- 5 base funded positions: 1 FTE Director, 1.5 administrative assistants, 2.5 educational technology consultants
- 5 Faculty Associates seconded with one course teaching re-assignments
- 15 volunteer Faculty Associates as workshop and ISW facilitators
Personnel Example #2:
- Full Time Director
- Full Time E-Learning Coordinator
- Full Time Educational Technician
- Full time Administrative Assistant
- Student Assistants
- Faculty volunteers as Instructional Skills Workshop and seminar facilitators
- Temporary special purpose secondments, for example, Learning Outcomes Coordinator
Impetus for creation of this ED model is to amalgamate a diverse and at times competing range of cross-institutional teaching and learning support units into one larger and centralized unit. Each of the smaller units maintains a coordinator or director, often with administrative Dean or ED Director(s) providing overall leadership. The amalgamated unit may provide comprehensive initiatives, for example teaching and learning support, media and graphics design, assessment and program review processes, online and hybrid course development and support, Math and/or Writing Centres, as well as support for institutional initiatives and often scholarship of teaching and learning programs. Bringing together this range of teaching and learning initiatives enhances institutional profile, enables more tightly coordinated ED scheduling and enhances synergies between these related areas. Personnel may range from 8 FTE to 60 or more full-time equivalent positions, with external hiring, as needed, dependent on projects.
Personnel Example #1:
- Co-management: Dean with responsibilities for curriculum and instructor development in concert with E-Learning Director who has responsibilities for media and technology and online support
- 1 Faculty Development coordinator
- 12 Instructional Development consultants
- 2 multi-media developers
- 4 video producers
- Graphic artists (dependent on projects)
- Technical writers (dependent on projects)
- Online technical support personnel
Personnel Example #2:
- Director, full-time, with disciplinary cross-appointment
- Assistant Director, full-time, with disciplinary cross-appointment
- Teaching Assistant coordinator, full-time
- Coordinators, full-time: Writing Centre; Math and Statistics Centre
- Teaching Consultants or Master Teachers, academic year appointments or emeriti
- Assistant to the Director, full-time
- Administrative Assistant, .80 FTE
- Learning and Teaching Scholar, teaching re-assignment
- Work Study Students
Disciplinary or Specialized Centres
The distinguishing feature of this model is prioritization of a disciplinary lens on the teaching and learning context. The impetus is often related to the argument that generic, cross-institutional teaching approaches are not fully attuned to the specific ‘ways of knowing’ of disciplinary learning. These units tend to be located within the physical context of the relevant discipline and may have strong, weak or no connection to a centralized institutional ED centre. These units may be structured as any of the above six models ranging from voluntary advisory committees through to an amalgamated unit. Funding most often is provided directly through the decanal area, though this may be supplemented by institution-wide funding sources. One institution reports that the “primary focus of most of the faculty specific units is to provide instructional support in various ways for their faculty and staff, frequently related to learning technology, and sometimes also to pedagogy or a combination of the two.”
The growth of disciplinary teaching and learning units is intriguing and strongly linked to the ideas of pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 2004a) with a focus on the subset of pedagogical initiatives or signature pedagogies (Gurung et al., 2009) that are most particularly suited to the teaching and learning of disciplinary content. David Boud and Angela Brew’s exploration of academic work as professional practice extends these ideas. Boud and Brew (2012) argue that more effective academic or educational development is created through investigation of real dilemmas embedded in disciplinary classroom professional practices, within intact and continuing collegial groups. Variants of the disciplinary model are specialized units that operate at the institutional level and focus on specific approaches such as the scholarship of teaching and learning, experiential or integrative learning, or research on teaching and learning within and across the disciplines. A model similar to the disciplinary unit is in place in many post-secondary institutions with one or more regional campuses. These sub-units of the centralized Teaching and Learning Centre provide initiatives that are reflective of regional campus needs and may be strongly connected to a central campus centre or may operate quite independently.
Discussion: Significant transformations are currently underway. Four institutions are in preliminary discussions about funding formalized educational development. At this stage, the significance of the primarily volunteer advisory committee is emphasized through signalling initial institutional funding support for educational development. In addition, five institutions are reviewing or implementing significant changes to the current shape of institutional educational development.
This is in distinct contrast to the year 2000 study of professional development across British Columbia’s higher education system, which was marked by high degrees of stability with limited evidence of structural changes in campus-based professional development. We now turn to an investigation of the reasons for the many evolutions in the shape of educational development in British Columbia post-secondary institutions.
Duration of Current Models
Discussion: Faculty development initiatives have been implemented across the BC post-secondary system, for several of the participating institutions, for up to forty years. However, the majority of reporting institutions have sustained their current structure for educational development for five years or less. What are significant catalysts for the transformations in campus-based educational development?
Respondents cite layers and levels of review of institutional mandates for teaching, learning and research that provoke shifts in educational development structures. They note many drivers for change: increased responsibilities and expanded roles for curriculum development and review, implementation of faculty initiation and renewal processes, enhanced learning programs being provided directly to undergraduate students, graduate student preparation for teaching, incorporation of media and technology innovations, and more, all evidence of increased institutional sensitivity to teaching and learning enhancement.
One significant shift is that of moving from professional development committees with specific mandates to manage and disburse contractual professional development funds to more complex and comprehensive educational development models that address the complexity of learning needs of faculty members, staff and administrators.
A second shift is clarification and simplification of the lines of reporting and authority for professional development services. One director notes that a significant change in their ED organization was “created to centralize a number of faculty development initiatives (program review, curriculum development, distributed education, teaching & learning enhancement) that have been reporting to a number of different Directors or Deans within the institution.” Another director reports that amalgamation occurred “to create better synergies and more seamless operation between the functions of course review and development, instructor development, faculty/school liaison, e-learning support, web development, and quality assurance.”
Exponential growth in the range of e-learning initiatives along with the need to educate faculty, administrators and staff about the potential of technologies is a catalyst for transforming structures. Closely related is the need to facilitate processes of enhancing pedagogical strategies through incorporation of technology. A strong trend evident is amalgamation of media and technology units with educational development units, often based on program reviews. “The educational technology coordinator was hired when it was realized that Instructional Technology services technicians couldn’t handle the kind of pedagogical questions that faculty had.”
Another driver for change is the evolving mandate of BC post-secondary educational institutions. Several institutions have significantly expanded mandates as they evolved from colleges, to university-colleges, and now are full-fledged special purpose teaching universities. Mandate changes are occurring in regional colleges and institutes. Personnel in graduate and doctoral universities are implementing a range of teaching and learning initiatives at the institutional level, as well as variations of the discipline-specific models of professional learning. Scholarship of teaching and learning initiatives have also brought attention to relevant research and literature.
As a result or concurrent to these changes there has been an emphasis on re-structuring institutional professional development services, amalgamating units, clarifying roles and responsibilities for educational development and creating new professional learning structures. In several of the institutions, directors note that senior academic administrators chose to significantly enhance support for teaching through expansion of educational development initiatives. Senior administrators may be significant champions for integrating educational development into the culture of the institution.
These drivers for change are resulting in a growing recognition that professional learning opportunities enhance effective teaching and learning. The Director or Coordinator is central to successful implementation and achievement of the escalating range of professional learning opportunities.
Roles: ED Coordinators and Directors
What are the specific roles and responsibilities of the educational development coordinator, director, or in several cases, associate dean or dean? There are many career paths that may prepare those intrigued by the profession of being an educational developer or learning consultant. The question of how and why individuals choose this career path is the subject of recent research (Gosling et al., 2007; McDonald & Stockley, 2010). Dawson et al. (2010) are investigating the specific competencies (knowledge, skills and abilities) most needed by entry-level and by senior faculty developers.
A comprehensive pattern of core roles and responsibilities emerged for the coordinator or director’s position through analysis of the campus-based educational development study data, specifically the range of ED initiatives, organizational structures, networks, as well as position descriptions.
A faculty member through secondment, term position or an institutional hiring process most often facilitates the part-time and several of the full-time coordinator or director positions. Director positions for full-time roles, particularly those who are supervising multiple ED consultants and Faculty Associates, may be posted as faculty or, more frequently, as administrative assignments.
Based on core roles and responsibilities, three foundational attributes are evident:
- Abilities to work effectively with people, with evidence of strong interpersonal communication, small group facilitation and effective teamwork capabilities
- Expertise and experience with teaching and learning praxis
- Capacity for vision and leadership in creating positive change in a post-secondary teaching and learning environment
To these foundational skills, we add a composite listing of ED coordinator or director roles and responsibilities:
- Consultation and facilitation of course and program curriculum review, revision and creation
- Consultation and engagement with academic communities in professional development and renewal, in both inter- and cross-disciplinary contexts
- Consultation and facilitation of e-learning initiatives, including knowledge of Open Educational Resources, copyright and social media implications in the academic environment
- Leadership and/or support for institutional development initiatives
- Organization, disbursement and review of professional development funds and grants
- Direction or supervision of Writing Centres, Math Centres and other institutional or disciplinary teaching and learning units
- Capacities to engage scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning; current knowledge of higher education teaching, learning and technology literature
- Capacities to provide leadership for educational development personnel including hiring, professional learning opportunities and personnel review
- Capacities for leadership of an educational development unit including strategic planning, implementation of professional learning initiatives, evaluation processes, and budget management
Discussion: Director or Coordinator as dancer, interpreter, collaborator, partner and innovator are a few of the similes evoked by these core roles and responsibilities. The ability to work across multiple disciplines is a special attribute. Taylor (2010) explores how educational developers may utilize their disciplinary backgrounds to work effectively within other disciplinary contexts. Taylor notes, in particular, awareness of disciplinary predispositions to valuing specific models of teaching and learning, the potential for developing collaborative inter- or cross-disciplinary communities, and potential challenges to acceptance of integrative or applied learning opportunities.
ED directors and coordinators, as demonstrated through their roles and responsibilities, are offering institutional leadership for learning. Please refer to Chapter 7 for a synthesis of these opportunities and challenges. We now transition to investigate reporting lines.