Multidimensional Faculty Professional Development in Teaching and Learning: Utilizing Technology for Supporting Students

Multidimensional Faculty Professional Development in Teaching and Learning: Utilizing Technology for Supporting Students

Alev Elçi (Aksaray University, Turkey), Hüseyin Yaratan (Cyprus International University, Cyprus) and A. Mohammed Abubakar (Antalya Bilim University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/IJTESSS.2020010102

Abstract

Higher educational institutions exert great effort to improve educational quality and effectiveness to cope with digital challenges in education. The impact of COVID-19 on education highlighted the importance of the achievement of sustainability in higher education. To overcome many of these challenges, faculty members need sustained professional development infrastructure embracing individual and institutional dimensions for enhancing educational qualifications. In this study, a quantitative method was employed to explore goals, individual needs, and institutional expectations of faculty in an international university in a developing country. The obtained survey data were analyzed using descriptive and non-parametric statistics (i.e., Kendall's coefficient of concordance, Kruskal–Wallis test, and Mann–Whitney U test). The findings demonstrate that the preferred goals of the faculty are found as developing skills in disciplinary knowledge, teaching and learning, and research. To achieve these goals, they favor certain capacity building activities and support services. Findings reflect the faculty's positive attitude towards multidimensional development, thus opening up to the global knowledge-based community. This study contributes to the existing literature as a pilot study to identify that faculty professional development needs are in line with student academic support.
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Introduction

Higher educational institutions, getting ready for the digital transformation, wander off the traditional roles to take strategic advantage for the key player roles. To overcome global competition, changing expectations and demands of students, technological challenges, and requirements of business and industry, higher educational institutions are shifting their focus towards teaching quality (Hénard & Roseveare, 2012). Quality improvement needs sustainable change and systematic development (Elçi & Elçi, 2013). The era of Industry 4.0 is believed to bring change to educational systems towards the development of robust integrated systems and infrastructure to facilitate learning in a student-centered manner (Umachandran et al., 2018). Alongside other structural changes are institutional and national policies that meant to enhance faculty development for the use of digital teaching and learning methods. The changing and aggregating role of students in teaching and learning is also gaining prominence.

These policies are partially implemented opting out important factors. One of them is academic support for students. ‘Academic’, which is also referred to as cognitive support is developing students’ learning and cognitive skills; teaching, flourishing learning skills, assessing and giving feedback (Martirosyan, 2019; Simpson, 2012). Collaço (2017) suggests that the faculty need to engage students in the learning experience by integrating relevant and motivating activities that encourage student-teacher interaction and teamwork. Elçi (2020) results also reveal the need to foster student-faculty collaboration to improve learner engagement and performance. On the other hand, faculty use, and integration of technology are also affecting students’ perceptions about excellence in teaching and learning (Malechwanzi et al., 2016). This summarizes the need for faculty pedagogical and technological excellence for student academic support.

Likewise, developing countries are the intimate followers of these quality improvement efforts. Elçi (2020) results claim the demand to increase knowledge base and to expand faculty development around digital teaching and learning strategies. Of immediate relevance to this article is the implementation of policies and strategies to encourage the use of technologically integrated learning design in developing countries like Northern Cyprus. Accordingly, an overwhelming number of higher educational institutions are accredited by international authorities and they generally went through internal quality assurance processes (Gökçekuş, 2015; Mehtap-Smadi & Hashemipour, 2011). Silman et al. (2012) asserted that despite the efforts to enhance quality assurance in most universities, academic staff shortage, limited financial support, poor strategic planning and implementations are the major problems. Consequently, faculty development has also been revealed as hindering towards quality enhancement (Mehtap-Smadi & Hashemipour, 2011). In their systematic review, Phuong et al. (2015) recommend the need for research on professional faculty development in higher education institutions in developing countries since developing countries are valuing higher education as a key force for development.

It is always recognized that professional development of faculty is a multidimensional concept. It usually covers subject, process type, targeted skills, impact; where impact is an extremely important dimension which is a potential in various domains as individual teaching competences, experience and performance of students, institutional culture, and faculty careers paths (Inamorato et al., 2019). Jacob et al. (2015) researched global higher educational institutions for teaching and research improvement and investigated various dimensions of the faculty development practices of best universities in eight geographic regions. Martirosyan (2019) emphasized the importance of international students that contribute intellectually, culturally, and economically to host-country’s higher educational institutions.

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