Pedagogical Action Research: Enhancing Learning and Teaching through a Community of Practice

Lin Norton (Liverpool Hope University, UK) and Tessa Owens (Liverpool Hope University, UK)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 303
EISBN13: 9781466644175|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3661-3.ch018
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In this chapter, the authors consider the dominance of the managerial discourse in higher education today related to staff development in learning and teaching, often perceived as a “top down” policy with which individuals are forced to comply (sometimes their successful completion of probation depends on it). Furthermore, there is an implication of a “deficit” approach to externally imposed staff development in learning and teaching where the assumption is that something in the teacher’s practice needs to be improved (Biggs, 1993). Such an approach does not take account of disciplinary and subject alliances; nor does it intrinsically motivate the individual academic, so it is unlikely to engender any real conceptual change. In light of these issues, the authors put forward a case for establishing strong communities of practice in teaching and learning where professional academics themselves can continue to influence policy and practice within their departments, their institutions, and ultimately, across the sector. In so doing, they draw on an example at one UK university of a community of practice in learning and teaching that evolved as a grass roots Pedagogical Action Research (PAR) group in 2001. Pedagogical action research has been proposed as an effective means of encouraging academics to engage with learning and teaching driven by their own need to know (Breslow, Drew, Healey, Matthew, & Norton, 2004; Norton, 2009). The authors conclude by analysing the effect of this initiative on the individual, the institution, and the wider learning and teaching community.
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