Tuesday, 15 September 2015
A new article from the Structure, Culture and Agency team is out. By Jeff Jawitz and Teresa Perez from the University of Cape Town, it presents data from a UCT case study on the attitudes of academics towards professional development with regard to the teaching role. The article is extremely valuable, firstly in its treatment of the concept of agency in institutional settings, and secondly in the manner in which it depicts attitudes towards teaching in a climate where research is still privileged in relation to incentives, performance criteria and individual attitudes. The study is based on one institution, but the trend is representative of other data collected in the broader NRF funded study, and trends evident nationally and internationally. Pleasingly, it suggests that the tide might be changing somewhat, as there is slightly more valuing of professional development with regard to the teaching role in this institution than previously. Whether this trend is due to the tireless efforts of those in academic development who advocate for the status of teaching, or whether it is simply the outcome of a younger generation of academics whose views on teaching and research are different to those held previously, or the result of an acknowledgement by senior managers that the incentivizing of research over teaching is having deleterious consequences - especially in a country where matriculation rates and participation in high education is inadequate - is not clear. Based on my experience at the two South African universities where I have been working in the past few years, and my engagement in national forums, I think it might be a combined outcome of all of these trends.
Here is the detail about the article:
International Journal for Academic Development, 2015 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2015.1081852
Investing in teaching development: navigating risk in a research intensive institution
It is often assumed that academics working in a research intensive university are unlikely to invest in the professional development of their teaching. Institutional structures and culture tend to undermine investment in academics’ teaching role. This study, conducted at the University of Cape Town, draws on an analysis of the environment within which academics make decisions to invest in their role as teachers. While acknowledging the privileging of research embedded in the institution, a significant group of academics have found ways to assert their academic identities as teachers despite the possible consequences and risks that this position entails.