Individual and Organisational Factors Influencing Academics’ Decisions to Pursue the Scholarship of Teaching ICT
Julianne Lynch, Deakin University, Australia ; Judithe Sheard, Angela Carbone, Francesca Collins, Monash University, Australia
JITE-Research Volume 4, Number 1, ISSN 1539-3585 Publisher: Informing Science Institute
This paper focuses on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) academics’ perceptions of factors that promote and inhibit their pursuit of scholarship in their teaching work. It identifies critical factors that influence academics’ attitudes, orientations and behaviours in respect to the scholarship of teaching, and from these builds a framework for understanding the interaction between these factors. We have named this framework the Scholarship of Teaching Support Framework. During 2001 and 2002 a national project investigated teaching and learning initiatives in the major discipline of ICT in Australia’s universities. As part of this project a mini-conference program was devised to elicit academics’ perceptions of the factors influencing their teaching work and their participation in scholarly activities around this work. In total 83 ICT teachers from 29 universities participated in the mini-conference program. Attendees included staff members from a range of academic levels. In discussions of aspects of the scholarship of teaching at the mini-conference participants referred to both attributes and responses of both university teachers and the university institutions. We have categorized these factors into those that relate to the individual academic (Individual domain) and those that relate to the tertiary institutional system (Organisational domain). Many contributions highlighted the interaction between these two domains. Within the Individual domain, two key factors described by participants as affecting the pursuit of the scholarship of teaching were teachers' motivation towards, and their capabilities in, scholarly activities surrounding their teaching. Within the organizational domain two influential factors also emerged. These were the organizational support provided through allocation of resources and symbolic support reflected in an institution’s systems, policies and processes. Our findings indicate that both the Individual and Organizational domains contribute to university teachers' decisions to pursue (or not to pursue) the scholarship of teaching. These two domains were seen by participants to interact within university environments to influence whether a particular environment is supportive or unsupportive in terms of the pursuit of the scholarship of teaching. Factors both from and within the individual and the organizational domains were seen to interact with each other forming a web of interrelated factors that appear to influence individuals’ decisions to pursue, or not to pursue, the scholarship of teaching. From this complexity four theoretical extremes emerged providing the dimensions and components of the Scholarship of Teaching Support Framework. We argue that responsive and innovative approaches to university teaching are best supported by academics undertaking scholarly activities around their teaching work, yet this article presents a picture of a university work environment where scholarly activities that focus on teaching and learning are seen as generally unsupported and unrewarded. This perception was identified as commonalities across a university system. Although some exceptions were noted, participants generally agreed that the organisational domain of Australian universities was largely unsupportive of the pursuit of the scholarship of teaching. Similarly, in general, university ICT teachers were not thought to have the backgrounds and capabilities necessary for pursuing the scholarship of teaching, such as familiarity with literature on teaching and learning and skills in educational evaluation. However, despite perceived inhibitors in universities’ organisational culture and allocation of resources, and a perceived lack in individuals’ skills, participants agreed that scholarly activities and innovation in university teaching and learning do take place, These are largely driven by the intrinsic motivation of individuals. It was recognised that further work is necessary to explore how motivation can be engendered and encouraged. The Scholarship of Teaching Support Framework is a useful tool for examining how conducive a given university teaching context is to the scholarship of teaching and, therefore, can be used for review purposes within both research and policy contexts. Such tools will become increasingly important as policy changes begin to affect practices in how university teaching work is managed, supported and encouraged.
Lynch, J., Sheard, J., Carbone, A. & Collins, F. (2005). Individual and Organisational Factors Influencing Academics’ Decisions to Pursue the Scholarship of Teaching ICT. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 4(1), 219-236. Informing Science Institute.
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