Explorations of the role academic managers play in the liminal space of faculty engagement with SOTL

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Gibbs (2008) highlights that, in order to develop teaching excellence, leadership activities such as nurturing an environment where it is permissible to talk in a scholarly manner about T&L, and where this is enabled through departmental structures, need to occur. This notion has been developed further by Roxå & Mårtensson (2009) in their exploration of significant conversations and networks and the role they play in developing scholarly conceptions of T&L. Gibbs also concluded that to drive teaching excellence forward managers need to value, encourage and celebrate teaching. Literature on the leadership of T&L also highlights teacher development as a component of the responsibilities of the academic leader (Martin et al, 2003; Ramsden, 2003). Within the UK the development of sector standards in T&L (UK PSF, 2011) together with national teaching excellence awards has helped to re-prioritise teaching development. However, the impact of this approach may be diminished if some manager conceptions and attitudes have lagged behind, thereby slowing down the transition to a more integrated and strategically-led culture of SOTL and teaching excellence. This study explores the role the academic manager plays in influencing, motivating and supporting faculty engagement in T&L CPD. The impact of managers’ own beliefs and values is analysed by examining factors such as their conceptions of; SOTL, teaching excellence, reflective practice, how they value and develop learning communities, their awareness and understanding of CPD opportunities and approaches within the HE sector and the institution (Gibbs, 2008; Wenger, 2000). This study is situated in a large UK university with a strong teaching mission. A multimethodological approach has been adopted interpreting institutional data from over five years. Evaluations from CPD activities, recognition and reward schemes have been collated and analysed for patterns of engagement. Against this rich backdrop, semi-structured interviews with 15 academic managers have been conducted to explore potential links between their leadership approach and its influence on faculty engagement with CPD. This analysis has shown considerable variation in engagement with CPD opportunities, reward and recognition processes across departments. Preliminary results indicate manager conceptions of teacher excellence, and the value they place on teaching as a professional and scholarly endeavour, impact on their prioritisation, motivation and support for staff engagement with CPD. Results reinforce Marshall et al’s contention (2011) that the capability for effective academic leadership requires attention to the domains of T&L and demonstrates that where SOTL is troublesome for academic leaders then our transition to scholarship at individual, departmental and organisational levels will falter. References: • Gibbs G, Knapper C, & Piccinin S (2008) Disciplinary and Contextually Appropriate Approaches to Leadership of Teaching in Research-Intensive Academic Departments in Higher Education, Higher Education Quarterly,62:4, 416-436 • Marshall SJ, Orrell J , Cameron A , Bosanquet A & Thomas S (2011): Leading and managing learning and teaching in higher education, Higher Education Research & Development, 30:2, 87-103 • Martin E , Trigwell K , Prosser M & Ramsden P (2003): Variation in the Experience of Leadership of Teaching in Higher Education, Studies in Higher Education, 28:3, 247-259 • Ramsden P (2003) Learning to Lead in Higher Education. London: Routledge Falmer. • Roxå, T., & Mårtensson, K. (2009). Significant conversations and significant networks – exploring the backstage of the teaching arena. Studies in Higher Education, 34(5), 547-559. • Wenger, E (2000) Communities of Practice and Social Learning Systems Organization. 7: 225-246 • UK Professional Standards Framework (2011) http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ukpsf accessed 14/02/13
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2013
EventInternational Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: issotl 2013 Critical Transitions in Teaching and Learning - Raleigh, United States
Duration: 2 Oct 20135 Oct 2013


ConferenceInternational Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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