Crossing epistemic boundaries – the professional learning of academics in higher education

Barry, W. (2017) Crossing epistemic boundaries – the professional learning of academics in higher education. In: Postgraduate Research Association Conference 2017 - Crossing Boundaries: Beyond and Across Academia, 25th May, 2017, Canterbury Christ Church University. (Unpublished)

PGRA-2017_25-05-2017_WB.pdf - Accepted Version

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For academics in UK Higher Education (HE), professional learning (PL) is a complex and messy endeavour, especially in a climate of managerialist targets and performance. To maintain their authenticity and credibility, academics are expected to be cognizant with a range of knowledge domains that cut across various epistemic boundaries, often sitting outside of their subject discipline or teaching practices suggesting conflicting priorities in what is learnt (e.g. subject discipline versus institutional policies).

Using sociomaterial approaches (Actor-Network Theory and Non-Representational Theory) as my theoretical framework, I explore how those conditions (e.g. academic role), situations (e.g. time pressures), spaces (e.g. shared offices), technologies (e.g. e-mail) and discourses (e.g. UK HE policy) can come to enable or encumber an academic's engagement with PL. A mixed methods approach enabled me to draw data from numerous sources: university policies, academic staff survey (n:182), academic staff interviews (n:12) followed by a photovoice activity (n:12).

The analysis indicated that PL and academic work are intrinsically entwined, thus difficult to separate. Academics tended to be opportunistic or strategic in prioritising what they needed to learn. More often than not, their PL was aligned towards the student experience. The need to ‘hide’ or ‘escape’ to a space that enabled academics to learn/work freely was a dominant discourse. Specific rituals and routines (i.e. listening to music, drinking coffee) enabled academics to focus their attention towards learning/working. This suggests that a social constructivist model of PL is inadequate and fails to recognise the ‘invisible’ dimensions to the PL of HE academics.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: L Education > LA History of education > LA0173 Higher education
Divisions: Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit
Depositing User: Mr Wayne Barry
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2017 15:10
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2017 15:10

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00