Introduction- Values of Educational Development

Why post-secondary institutions might provide support for educational development is the first consideration of this report, prior to examining the range of structures  and practices  evident across this  higher education system.

To respond to this question, we synthesize the values that emerged from the data provided by the comprehensive range of post-secondary institutions participating in this campus-based educational development study. 

These values include:

Providing preliminary support as newly minted faculty members launch their post-secondary teaching careers. 

These may be veterans of industry or the workplace who are transitioning into academic careers, younger faculty who have completed academic degrees often with little or no teaching experience, or they may be those who have extensive teaching experiences in the K-12 system or in community teaching roles. Whatever their prior experiences, the transition into post-secondary academic teaching may be an eye-opening and traumatic experience. Educational development consultants may provide guidance and models during these early stages of the academic career.

Providing catalysts and challenges to mid-career faculty members.

These individuals usually have mastered the preliminary responsibilities and practices of effective post-secondary environments and are now seeking ways to further enhance their teaching practices. Educational developers may encourage and support them by offering opportunities to share literature on teaching and learning in higher education,  research their classroom practices, or  share their emerging teaching and learning strengths through conference sessions or workshops.

Providing venues for veteran faculty members to share their wisdom of practice.

Leaving a legacy is often a consideration of those in this career stage. Sharing the learning from many years of extensive teaching and learning experiences, perhaps through mentoring programs,  may be coordinated through a teaching and learning centre. Faculty Associate approaches offer mid-career and veteran faculty members the opportunity to share their knowledge of effective teaching and learning practices.

Coordinating or partnering to provide a range of cross-career support for administrators and support staff.

Several of the teaching and learning centres provide inclusive support for all within the institution and therefore may be actively involved with relevant leadership or career advancement initiatives for administrators and support staff.

Providing or coordinating teaching and learning support directly needed by students.

Several of the participating institutions define the mandate of educational developers as inclusive of student needs that are specifically related to teaching and learning. Therefore, student support services such as Writing Centres,  Math Centres  or Graduate Teaching Assistant programs are being integrated within educational development centres. 

Participating actively in a range of institutional strategic planning processes and initiatives.

Educational developers may provide timely reviews of alternative practices, challenges to existing processes, and syntheses of relevant teaching and learning literature. They provide leadership to institutional teaching and learning initiatives. Many of the educational developers network with their colleagues within British Columbia, across Canada and internationally.   Therefore, they have access to relevant teaching and learning innovations and approaches that may effectively inform institutional strategic planning.

Promoting the significance of teaching and learning initiatives within and beyond the institution.

Those interviewed noted a significant and often escalating factor is the perceived tension between research and teaching.  Educational developers noted that they offer perspectives on establishing the nexus between teaching and research while encouraging initiatives that value and reward teaching. They provide institutional, provincial, national and international leadership on a range of teaching and learning initiatives.

Partnering with or coordinating Curriculum Development, Program Review, Senate or Education Council program or course review processes.

Educational development consultants provide expertise and a network to effectively integrate or enhance those institutional approval processes directly involved with teaching and learning.

Providing leadership for institutional initiatives such as Technology innovations, Learning Outcomes strategic plans and much more.

Educational developers offer expertise and leadership for developing, evaluating, and monitoring institutionally mandated initiatives designed to enhance the teaching and learning environment.

Encouraging   interdisciplinary approaches that explore common ground as well as networking.

Cross-disciplinary discussions  about teaching and learning questions often evoke realizations of common ground and shared dilemmas.  Educational development consultants may create opportunities for these types of interdisciplinary explorations.

Honouring discipline- specific teaching and learning approaches.

While there are many shared practices across disciplines, there also educational concepts, ways of organizing learning that tend to be discipline-specific. Educational development consultants may help structure this focus on pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 2004). 

Encouraging reflection and research on teaching and learning

Cogent and thorough syntheses of national and international research on post-secondary teaching and learning are identifying emerging research questions and distilling more effective practices. One fine example is Christensen Hughes & Mighty’s Taking Stock: Research on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 2010.  Online journals, such as Transformative Dialogues, Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, are enhancing ready access to this evolving research literature. Educational development consultants initiate professional learning opportunities for higher education personnel to delve into this research literature and to reflect on the applications within specific disciplinary contexts.  Educational developers may also encourage and support individual and collective action research initiatives to examine classroom teaching and learning practices.

These values for educational development underpin a diverse range of contextualized institutional structures and practices. Individual institutional context, mandate and vision will highly influence the form of campus-based educational development.

Therefore, this report provides a detailed examination of the range of structures, models, staffing, funding, reporting lines and more--  is provided in the Structures section of this report, beginning on page MMM.

The Practices section of this report, beginning on page NNN, provides a comprehensive overview of the types of benefits emerging from institutions  support and encouragement of educational development initiatives.

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Last modified: Monday, 14 May 2012, 2:54 PM