Changing contexts: changing views of teaching expertise

Publisher:
OVAL, UTS
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Citation:
4th International Conference on Researching Work and Learning RWL4 2005, 2005, pp. 1 - 13
Issue Date:
2005-01
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Contemporary academic workplaces are characterised by change, complexity and diversity. With the 'enterprise' university presenting new and varied demands on university teachers, conceptions of teaching expertise and teacher identity as stable and enduring are no longer sustainable. In this paper we argue for a contextualised view of teaching expertise that acknowledges both the dynamic and relational nature of expertise and the social and cultural positioning of university teachers. Selected findings are presented from a narrative study conducted with award winning university teachers. Using identity as a framework for analysis, attention is given to the shaping and reshaping of teacher identities in a changing higher education environment. Discussion of teachers and teaching practices moves beyond adapting and responding to 'situations' to a more complex view that focuses on how teachers handle the multiple frames of understanding, action and identity that Barnett (2000) argues are increasingly a feature of professional life. Mastery of subject knowledge, while still an important foundation of teaching expertise, must be supplemented by a teacher's capacity to be reflexive and to manage both the self and the social encounters in which teaching and learning take place. Viewing teaching expertise in this way parallels a more general trend in assessing educational outcomes. Increasingly the focus on outcomes is as much on the characteristics, subjectivity and orientations of students as on skills and knowledge (Chappell, Rhodes, Solomon, Tennant and Yates 2003). This view of teaching expertise throws up a range of challenges to existing professional development programs for university teachers. To conclude, we speculate on how professional development for academics can be reconceptualised to address the complexity and diversity of the contemporary university workplace
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