Variation and change in university teachers' ways of experiencing teaching

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This thesis explores how university teachers' ways of experiencing teaching change from teacher focused to student focused and why some teachers experience this change while others do not. The exploration adopts the theoretical perspective of variation, learning and awareness (Marton and Booth, 1997) and is based on a two-year longitudinal interview study of 27 university teachers. Classical and new phenomenographies were used to constitute teachers' ways of experiencing teaching and teachers' ways of experiencing change in teaching. Changes in individual teachers' ways of experiencing were described and interpreted through focusing on teachers' awareness of critical aspects and related dimensions of variation, creating individual vignettes, and constituting themes in the critical experiences and orientations related to change. The outcomes included six ways of experiencing teaching and their complementary patterns of critical aspects, a set of themes related to change in ways of experiencing and five ways of experiencing change in teaching. Combining these outcomes resulted in four patterns which illuminated why some teachers' ways of experiencing teaching became student focused while others remained teacher focused. Teachers who became capable of experiencing teaching in student-focused ways focused on understanding teaching in relation to students' learning. They experienced change in teaching as becoming more student-focused or as relating teaching to development or change in student understandings, and were oriented towards putting teaching into focus and reflecting in ways informed by formal learning. These teachers experienced relevance structures which brought the critical aspects of student-focused ways of experiencing teaching to the foreground of their awareness so that they experienced corresponding dimensions of variation. Their awareness of teaching expanded and this corresponded to a shift in the focus and meaning of teaching.
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