A phenomenographic outcome space for ways of experiencing lecturing

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Higher Education Research and Development, 2021
Issue Date:
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After decades of increasing evidence in favour of active learning, lecturing remains the dominant face-to-face teaching mode. Just as a rigorous research approach is required to understand how to improve student learning outcomes, we also need research about how to reform teaching practice. Some initial steps in this direction have shown that successful pedagogical reforms are long-term, contextualised, and address teachers’ beliefs about teaching. It is not enough to put in place overarching policy directives about active learning, nor to simply share best practice, because these strategies do not engage with the particular teaching contexts and beliefs of individual academics. Professional development programs to shift academics away from the traditional lecture must incorporate academics’ conceptions of lecturing. Although there has been some research into conceptions of university teaching in general, there is a dearth of literature focusing on conceptions of lecturing in particular. This article addresses that gap, by using a phenomenographic approach to interview 30 academics about their lecturing experiences. From analysing the transcripts, a hierarchy of five ways of experiencing lecturing was identified: (1) Lecturing as soliloquy, (2) Lecturing as connecting meaning, (3) Lecturing as cultivating individuals, (4) Lecturing as transformatively co-creating, (5) Lecturing as enacting research. Three themes of expanding awareness framed this hierarchy: interaction, student diversity, and lecture purpose. By extrapolating these themes downwards, a zeroth category was conjectured: Lecturing as reading. Implications for educators are discussed, along with potentially fruitful avenues of future research.
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