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In this paper we review the current debate regarding the work of academic developers in higher education and their rightful “place” in higher education, particularly with regard to notions of the discipline, research and scholarship of teaching. We describe and compare the work of discipline academics and academic developers and argue that the two are more similar to each other than different. We acknowledge the challenges and tensions that exist in the overlap between the domains of expertise of discipline academics and academic developers, and attempt to articulate sources of these tensions in a conceptual model. Ultimately we defend two propositions: (1) that academic developers are, by the nature of their work, academics, and (2) that the discipline that academic development is a part of, namely the discipline of higher education , is a legitimate academic discipline in its own right. The consequences of these two propositions are explored. Yes Yes
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International Journal for Academic Development
Vol. 9, No. 1, May 2004, pp. 9–27
ISSN 1360–144X (print)/ISSN 1470–1324 (online)/04/010009–19
© 2004 Taylor & Francis Ltd
DOI 10.1080/1360144042000296035
Academic Developers: An Academic
Tribe Claiming their Territory in
Higher Education
Debra Bath
and Calvin Smith
Griffith University, Australia;
University of Queensland, Australia
Taylor and Francis LtdRIJA100091.sgm10.1080/1360144042000296035International Journal for Academic Development0000-0000 (print)/0000-0000 (online)Original Article2004Taylor & Francis Ltd91000000May 2004DebraBathSchool of Applied PsychologyGriffith UniversityGold Coast Campus, PMB50 Gold Coast Mail
In this paper we review the current debate regarding the work of academic developers in higher education and
their rightful “place” in higher education, particularly with regard to notions of the discipline, research and
scholarship of teaching. We describe and compare the work of discipline academics and academic developers
and argue that the two are more similar to each other than different. We acknowledge the challenges and
tensions that exist in the overlap between the domains of expertise of discipline academics and academic
developers, and attempt to articulate sources of these tensions in a conceptual model. Ultimately we defend
two propositions: (1) that academic developers are, by the nature of their work, academics, and (2) that the
discipline that academic development is a part of, namely the discipline of
higher education
, is a legitimate
academic discipline in its own right. The consequences of these two propositions are explored.
The recent publication,
The Scholarship of Academic Development
(Eggins & Macdonald,
2003), brings together the work of several key players in the academic development profession
and gives further infusion to the current debates surrounding such issues as the nature of
academic development and its place in higher education, the “training” of academics to be
teachers, discipline differences in teaching and learning, and the changing nature of higher
education and academic work.
While the contributors to this book provide timely, thought-provoking work in the scholar-
ship of academic development, the question regarding how academic developers fit in the
world of academia still continues to dangle from the edges of our conceptions of this profes-
sion. Indeed, Macdonald (2003, p. 1) suggests that perhaps it is time that a case be made for
academic development to be recognised as a legitimate area, with its own traditions of
Corresponding author. Dr Debra Bath, School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Gold Coast
Campus, PMB50 Gold Coast Mail Centre, Q9726, Australia. Email:
D. Bath and C. Smith
research, scholarship and practice, and asks “is it time for academic development to receive
recognition as an academic tribe with its own territory?”.
Even with the recent changes in higher education policy in both the UK and Australia ever
strengthening the focus on the quality of teaching and learning, it seems that academic devel-
opers are still watching their backs and wondering how others perceive them, and how they
will continue to work in higher education. In 2001, Gosling reviewed educational develop-
ment units in the UK and stated that while educational (or academic) development as a field
of practice and research has achieved a new level of maturity and confidence, being an estab-
lished field of study and recognised professional role in higher education institutions, there is
still uncertainty about how academics view academic developers and their role in universities
(Gosling, 2001). Only six years ago, Rowland and colleagues claimed that:
[a]t best, they [
academics] view those in these [academic development] units as providing a
service to help them teach. At worst, they ignore them as lacking academic credibility and being
irrelevant to the real intellectual tasks of academic life. (Rowland, Byron, Furedi, Padfield, &
Smyth, 1998, p. 134)
In relation to academic developers themselves, they also suggested that “lost amongst their
cyclical, circular and spiraling ‘theories’ of learning, detached from any subject matter, they
become like…professors who have nothing to profess” (p. 135). However, we agree with
Macdonald (2003), and believe that a case should be made for academic development to be
recognised as an academic tribe with its own territory, and that the notion that academic
developers are “like professors who have nothing to profess” needs finally to be put in its
place. In the following sections of this paper, we outline the role and nature of academic work
as carried out by academics in the disciplines, and then compare and contrast these with the
role and work of academic developers. Whilst we recognise that the role of the academic devel-
oper is not always regular academic work (for example, as described by Andresen, 1996), we
see far more parallels than differences in the way that academics and academic developers
fulfil their roles in higher education institutions today. It is not in the day-to-day activities that
we necessarily see these parallels, but in the underlying nature of the work. However, there are
distinctive elements to academic development work and we discuss these in relation to the
issues faced by academic developers working with and alongside academics, and demonstrate
through a conceptual model, how each “tribe” exists in the university setting.
Profile of Academic Work
In the past couple of decades, a considerable amount of research has been conducted into the
nature of academic work, and the different roles fulfilled by academics in higher education
(for example, Becher, 1989; Becher & Trowler, 2001; Bowen & Schuster, 1986; Boyer,
Altbach, & Whitelaw, 1994; Buchbinder & Newson, 1985; Clark, 1987; Kreber, 2000;
McInnes, 1999). Perhaps one of the most easily identifiable characteristics of academics, and
the work that they do, is that they belong to a discipline and are embedded in researching and
teaching in this discipline area. Indeed, it has been well documented that academics tend to
identify most strongly as members of particular disciplinary “tribes” as described by Becher
(1989) in the well-known book,
Academic tribes and territories: Intellectual inquiry and the
cultures of disciplines
Academic Developers
In addition to being embedded in, and identifying with, a particular discipline, research has
shown that academics engage in a variety of activities within their discipline, and in the wider
university community. For example, Clark (1987) proposed that in addition to the two major
tasks of teaching and research, academics also advise and counsel students, carry out adminis-
trative tasks and consult. Buchbinder and Newson (1985) put forward three major areas of
academic work: teaching, research and service, while Bowen and Schuster (1986) suggest that
four major tasks overlap: teaching, research, public service and institutional service (such as
that relating to governance and operation). While others have categorised the academic role in
slightly different ways, research has found that in general the work of an academic can be clas-
sified according to the broad fields of research, teaching or service (for example, Boyer,
Altbach, & Whitelaw, 1994; Kreber, 2000; McInnes, 1999).
Kreber (2000) identified through analysis of lists generated by academics themselves, a
number of aspects that describe academic work, including:
learning about new developments in one’s discipline, and learning about one’s teaching;
off-campus lectures, conference presentations, consulting, community service, and being a
participant in professional associations;
informal conversations with colleagues, advising/mentoring/assisting colleagues, and
networking with colleagues;
reviewing and evaluating the work of colleagues (manuscripts, grant proposals, etc.);
conducting research, writing books, articles, monographs, and grant proposals, etc.;
preparing for teaching and formal instruction, and preparing and conducting evaluations of
students’ work;
advising students on assignments, projects and theses, and counseling students on program
and career issues; and
university and departmental committee work.
Kreber’s study found that these academics considered learning about their discipline and
learning about teaching to be important aspects to their work, and that this group
perceived these to be essentially collaborative activities. This view is quite evident in the
activities listed, such as informal conversations with colleagues, advising/mentoring/assisting
colleagues, networking with colleagues, reviewing and evaluating the work of colleagues,
conference presentations, public talks, being a member/participant of professional associa-
tions and so on.
In light of these descriptions of the nature of academic work, we will now describe the work
of academic developers in higher education, and in doing so, reveal the shared nature of this
work with that of academics.
The Discipline “Tribe”
Given that a key characteristic of academics is their membership of a discipline, it is important
to start this section by exploring the issue of academic developers’ disciplinary identity. This
has been a contested issue in recent times, and one which is perhaps still under examination.
As Malcolm and Zukas (2000) suggest, often when the assumptions of a community of prac-
tice are challenged they are made more explicit; this is what is happening now to the profes-
sion of academic development.
D. Bath and C. Smith
Becher (1994) has suggested that higher education is a field of study and not a discipline in
its own right, and that most researchers in the area are like “expatriates”, who have aban-
doned their original discipline and perhaps lack a culture of their own. We would argue,
however, that this proposition is negated by evidence relating to both Becher’s and others’
definitions of discipline.
In arriving at his definition of discipline, Becher (1994) endorses the view of Price (1970)
who proffers a compromise position between two opposing views, those of Toulmin (1970)
who focuses on “epistemological considerations, presenting disciplines as each characterised
by its body of concepts, methods and fundamental aims” and Whitley (1984) who defines
disciplines “as organised social groupings”. Price’s (and Becher’s) preferred definition is a
combination of both epistemological orientation and social organisation. Indeed Becher
(1989) maintains that disciplinary groups can usefully be regarded as academic tribes, each
with their own set of intellectual values and their own patch of cognitive territory (Becher,
1994). Similarly, but from an insider’s perspective, Donald (1991, p. 1) argues that disci-
plines originate when “a concerned band of scholars come together to discuss issues of
mutual concern in their area of learning”. She suggests that disciplines are defined epistemo-
logically by their distinctive body of knowledge and by the methodology or research strate-
gies employed, and that they organise research and publications, and have professional
Under all of these definitional formulations, academic developers indeed belong to such a
disciplinary tribe, as we shall now demonstrate. For example, there exist “concerned bands
of scholars” gathered together in academic development units (and in some faculties of
education, for example, the Faculty of Education at University of Melbourne which
includes among its numerous departments and centres the Centre for the Study of Higher
Education), creating a dialogue together, and with others, focused on the topics of their
concern, their professional practices, and their research. There are numerous internationally
recognised journals in which such scholars publish, for example:
Assessment and Evaluation
in Higher Education
Australian Journal of Higher Education
Higher Education
Higher Educa-
tion in Europe
Higher Education in Management
Higher Education Quarterly
Higher Education
Research and Development
Higher Education Review
Journal of Further and Higher Education
Journal of Tertiary Education
New Directions for Higher Education
Studies in Higher Education
The Journal of Higher Education
Quality in Higher Education
. In these journals one can
find, articulated in terms of disparate and competing epistemological, methodological and
theoretical perspectives, a large volume of research findings relating the field of higher
education. These professionals also organise themselves socially, into a number of key
professional associations, such as the Higher Education Research and Development Society
of Australasia (HERDSA), Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE), American
Association for Higher Education (AAHE), the Society for Teaching and Learning in
Higher Education (STLHE) in Canada, the Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher
Education (ILTHE) and the Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) in
the UK, the European Centre for Higher Education, and the International Consortium for
Educational Development (ICED).
The idea of a range of competing epistemological, methodological and theoretical perspec-
tives, proposed by Donald (1991), is an interesting one. It seems fairly obvious that, as a disci-
pline matures, specialisation occurs in a variety of arenas including the questions addressed by
Academic Developers
the discipline, the methods used to address those questions, and the concomitant ontological
assumptions and commitments that define each of these specialisations. These specialisations
can sometimes grow into new disciplines, but in the main they constitute a discipline’s sub-
disciplines. A review of the history of any discipline demonstrates this general rule: the ques-
tions to be addressed often start very broad, then there emerges a narrowing of the scope of
the questions, a growth in the number of these more specified questions, even grouping of
questions within broad fields within the discipline, and a narrowing of methods within each
enterprise to suit the questions and their attendant ontologies. Each sub-discipline defines its
own cutting edge of issues that in turn define the research agenda of the sub-discipline and
together these define the state-of-the-art of the whole discipline (see also Becher, 1990). Thus
we would argue that although the discipline of higher education may seem to be less advanced
down the discipline development pathway (if there indeed exists such a thing) than many
other disciplines, it is nonetheless a well developed, multi-strand, complex collection of
research agendas and people fulfilling these, and is in every respect a full-blown discipline.
We exist in rapidly changing times, where knowledge is not static but continually growing
and developing in new ways. What the traditional disciplines are currently experiencing,
through increasing specialisation, and occasionally the hybridisation of some areas of study, is
what Rowland (2001, 2002) has described as the “fragmentation” of higher education. This is
where discipline knowledge is becoming far more specialised and there is a rapid growth of
sub-disciplines, which may make the idea of disciplines and discipline boundaries redundant.
However, while Rowland has suggested that the field of teaching and learning in higher
education is also fragmented, he goes on to state that unless academic developers are clear
about what the boundaries of the field or subject matter of academic development are, it is
difficult to see what they have to offer academics in the disciplines. This is overstating the
difficulty that may result from a lack of clarity, we think, but we do endorse the idea that clar-
ity about the disciplinary scope and boundaries of academic development research does help,
in a variety of ways, not just in marketing our “usefulness” to disciplinary academics.
Although, like other disciplines, higher education could be described as fragmented, with
many specialist areas or fields of study, this is certainly not something that should be viewed
as problematic. We rather prefer the view that this state of affairs provides a rich and broad
foundation upon which to base the practice of academic development. The literature on
which academic development continues to develop draws together research and scholarship
on adult learning and student learning in higher education, in areas such as approaches to
learning, conceptions of learning and conceptions of teaching, learning in the disciplines and
particular aspects of teaching and learning such as curriculum design, facilitating group work,
assessing students, and integrating technology into students’ learning environments (Brew,
2003; Light, 2003). As can be seen by the earlier list of higher education journals, the disci-
pline of higher education also includes research and scholarship relating to the role and nature
of academic work, higher education institutions in society, policy and management issues in
higher education, and examines the social, political and epistemological issues and values of
teaching and learning in higher education (Light, 2003).
As Light (2003) suggests, the value of this discipline to those within it, and to those who
teach in higher education, is that it describes and elucidates how learning occurs in higher
education, and challenges us to reflect and examine our roles as academics and members of
higher education institutions in society. Further, as argued by others (for example, Andresen,
D. Bath and C. Smith
1996; Yorke, 2003), research in higher education which examines teaching and learning
issues and the ways in which learning is best facilitated in students, whether it be through
small discipline- or context-based case studies or large research programs, provides insights
that can be readily applied in many different contexts.
Roles of the Academic Developer
Recent definitions (for example, Badley, 1998; Gosling, 2001) of educational (academic)
development concur that it essentially revolves around the improvement, support and devel-
opment of teaching, learning, assessment and curriculum, the enquiry into, investigation of
and research into higher education, and informed debate and promotion of the scholarship of
teaching and learning into higher education goals and practices. Such a list can easily be cate-
gorised into the three areas of academic work described above: teaching, research and service.
For example, (1) teaching: working with staff for the development and improvement of teach-
ing, learning, assessment and curriculum; (2) research: the enquiry, investigation and
research into higher education; and (3) service: informed debate and promotion of the schol-
arship of teaching and learning into higher education goals and practices. These three areas
are now discussed in turn.
Research such as that by Fraser (2001) has shown the wide range of roles that
academic developers engage in, which exemplify the areas of teaching, research and service.
While many of the academic developers interviewed in her study did not see themselves as
“teachers” in the traditional sense of the term and they expressed their role as being a facilita-
tor, catalyst, mentor, or consultant, others did view their work as involving teaching. For
example, as one participant stated, “If I have facilitated someone’s learning of something,
then I have engaged in a form of teaching” (p. 59). This is consistent with Watkins and
Mortimore’s (1999) definition of teaching, which stipulates that teaching can be considered
as any activity by an individual that is aimed at facilitating or encouraging learning in another.
While Rowland et al. (1998) propose that academic developers are “like…professors who
have nothing to profess”, we would argue that in fact they are faced with a far greater chal-
lenge in teaching—“walking the walk”
as well as
“talking the talk”. That is, academic develop-
ers not only have to teach their discipline (teaching and learning), but also have to enact that
discipline in and through their practice, whilst professing it. It is not possible, indeed, for an
academic developer to have nothing to profess. If academic developers are to encourage and
facilitate pedagogically sound, theoretically based approaches to teaching and learning in
others, they cannot get away with teaching in a manner that is not based in pedagogical
principles informed by research. Crucially, like academics in other professions, academic
developers themselves contribute considerably to the research upon which they rely in their
practice. A situation in which this were not the case, would be like having a non-engineer
teach engineering.
Academic developers experience teaching in similar kinds of ways as academics in the disci-
plines do. For instance, depending on the context and objectives, teaching by academic devel-
opers is sometimes transmissive, content-rich and teacher-centric, at other times it is
collaborative, negotiated and student-centred. The “students” with whom academic developers
Academic Developers
engage, come with diverse motivations, prior learning, and intentions, and like many under-
graduates and postgraduates, are employed full-time as well as studying. Increasingly, academic
developers are designing e-mediated learning environments for “delivering” their teaching (or
students’ learning) “flexibly” for independent engagement by students.
Of course, most teaching by academic developers is student-centred, andragogical and
collaborative, because that is what is appropriate for their students. Academic developers seek
to engage their students in authentic learning contexts with meaningful learning outcomes.
Such approaches are consistent with the preferences of academics in Kreber’s (2000) study
who considered both learning about their discipline and learning about teaching as essentially
collaborative activities. It would appear then that academic developers and discipline academ-
ics have similar methods or preferences for approaching teaching/professional development
activities, which is amply illustrated with the plethora of literature concerning the academic
development models which centre on collaborative learning such as action learning (for exam-
ple, Zuber-Skerritt, 1992). We can parallel the action learning model of academic develop-
ment, with models of teaching that are student-centred, where knowledge is co-constructed
between teacher and student, where teaching and learning activities are authentic, explor-
atory, and students are actively engaged with the material or adopt a problem-solving
approach to exploring this material. In addition to the benefits of being a student-centred
model of teaching, the action learning approach to academic development has been argued to
have a greater impact on the improvement of teaching and learning than research produced
by educational theorists and researchers (Zuber-Skerritt, 1992 cited in Light, 2003).
Despite the similarities in teaching, one major distinction between academics and academic
developers is in the relative proportions of formal and informal teaching in which each party
engages. Whereas discipline academics may engage mainly in formal teaching, that is, teaching
leading to a qualification of a student in some way, with a minority of their work being informal
(such as seminars, consultative work, and professional development activities for which learn-
ing is not assessed), the work of the academic developer is reversed in its proportions in these
two categories. Although much of the teaching academic developers do may be seen as informal
(such as conducting workshops and seminars, and working with colleagues on development
projects such as curriculum review and design), academic developers also undertake teaching
in formal, assessed modes, through teaching courses such as a Graduate Certificate in Higher
Education. For example, a survey of UK units found that over 70% were responsible for a
graduate certificate (Gosling, 2001). In all cases, our teaching is more like that involved in
teaching postgraduate courses or in supervising postgraduate students on a research project,
than undergraduate teaching. In drawing a parallel between the work of discipline academics
and academic developers, Light (2003, p. 157) suggests that at the heart of all our academic
practices is the commonality of learning and proposes that “through their own academic
research and scholarship, they are able to bring to the encounter with their students, a shared
experience of the struggle and exhilaration of learning”. We would argue that this is true of all
academics who undertake research and scholarship into their teaching, whether that be the
teaching done by academic developers, or that done by academics in disciplines.
Evidence that academic developers value and contribute to a research culture in
their discipline is clearly presented in the book referred to earlier,
The scholarship of academic
D. Bath and C. Smith
(Eggins & Macdonald, 2003). The plethora of existing literature and the rapidly
increasing publication of research in higher education (by academic developers) cannot be
disputed. Indeed, the growing number of academic appointments in academic development
units means that the publication of research will continue to be a firmly embedded part of
academic developers’ practice. Like discipline academics in faculties and departments,
academic developers are subject to application and promotion processes that require demon-
stration of work in the three key areas of teaching, research and service. If not a carrot (that is,
intrinsic interest and motivation, promotion opportunities), then a stick (that is, policy), will
ensure that academic developers engage in research as part of their professional lives.
While the view that academic developers engage in research may not be disputed, there are
varied opinions about the
of this research. It has already been documented that
academic developers often have an academic background in another discipline with an estab-
lished record of teaching and research (for example, Fraser, 1999). Many of these academic
developers have a background in school education and have come to academic development
after postgraduate studies in that discipline. For others, they have come to academic develop-
ment through a strong commitment to, and scholarship in, teaching and learning in higher
education as academics in a particular discipline. However, despite the acknowledgement that
most academic developers already have an established background in an another discipline,
Rowland (2003) has stated that academics developers tend not to employ a wide variety of
methodologies, including those from sociology, psychology and philosophy, in comparison
with academics in education departments. We would strongly argue that this is not the case.
For example, during the last two years our own academic development unit has been popu-
lated by staff with academic backgrounds in history, psychology, sociology, teacher education,
mathematics, and science. In their research, these individuals utilise various approaches
including phenomenography, conversation analysis, critical discourse analysis, grounded
theory, action research, interpretivism, and quantitative methods such as factor analysis and
multiple regression; a rather rich collection of backgrounds and approaches. This variety of
methodologies and perspectives is also amply evidenced in the research published in the
higher education literature.
Rowland (2003) also suggests that in higher education institutions, there are communities
of educationists who “are largely blind to the concerns of higher education” and communities
of support staff (that is, academic developers), who “know about higher education, but are
largely blind to the broader and deeper concerns and insights of educationists” (p. 21). Again,
we would argue that this is an uninformed statement. In our institution (and others around
Australia) many academic developers collaborate with the community of educationists in the
design and delivery of programs such as a Graduate Certificate in Education (Higher Educa-
tion), co-supervise postgraduate research students, and are also members of different research
interest groups based in education. Further, as documented by Fraser (1999) many academic
developers have an academic background in education including teaching qualifications. Out
of the 71 academic developers surveyed in her study, 45 (63%) held a teaching qualification
and 50% held a Masters degree of which almost half were in Education. Now, one can hardly
say that academic developers are not aware of the knowledge, concerns and insights of educa-
tionists (nor that all educationists are blind to issues in higher education)!
A further question regarding the quality of academic developers’ research is related to the
perception of educational research in general. While the increase in academic appointments
Academic Developers
for academic developers may help to further establish academic development as a credible,
academic profession, it may still suffer the same low status that education and many other arts
and humanities disciplines often do. As Gosling (2003) notes, there seems to be an assumption
made by certain bodies that teaching and learning is not a proper area of scholarly research and
can exist without exhibiting the intellectual enquiry and rigour typical in other disciplines. This
is an enduring issue for the arts and humanities disciplines, including education, particularly
in competing for research funding but also in terms of the way they are generally perceived.
For example, in a recent committee meeting regarding assessment and large classes (attended
by the first author), an academic from the “hard” sciences stated that unlike their colleagues
in social sciences such as psychology, in the sciences they are committed to their research and
do not have the time to implement assessment other than scheduled examinations (for exam-
ple, essays, project work). This belief clearly shows the ignorance which exists in the university
community regarding different disciplines, and in particular, ignorance of different research
cultures which sometimes results in undervaluing research other than that which is familiar
and understood. We will return to this point later in the paper.
The service area of academic work is the only category of the three, which all observ-
ers would agree is a core component of academic development work. This fact is a result of
two things: (1) working in what are often construed as, and organisationally situated as
central “service units” and (2) working in a role for which the key responsibilities are very
much oriented towards providing a service to the university, its faculties, and individuals or
groups of academic staff. Such activities often involve committee membership at university
(for example, university management or policy development committees, working parties)
and faculty or departmental level (for example, teaching and learning committees, program
development working groups). By circumstance then, it is this area of work that perhaps
creates the most dissimilarity between academic developers and academics in the disciplines.
While both academic developers and academics in the disciplines engage in “internal”
service (that is, service to the university community, through various internal committees and
the like) and “external service” (that is, service to the community beyond the institution
through consultancies, provision of expert advice and dissemination of research findings),
there is a key difference in the way both groups engage in the provision of service.
In relation to internal service, both serve on committees internal to their own organisation
units, dealing with such matters as applications for vacant positions, strategic planning and so
forth. This is uncontentious and there would be no differences between the two groups here.
Both also serve on committees beyond each one’s own disciplinary and organisational unit
boundaries, however the balance and focus of these commitments differ. For example, an
academic in pharmacy may be on the School Teaching and Learning Committee, a selection
panel, and the School Board of Studies. An academic developer, on the other hand, may be
on the central University Teaching and Learning Committee, a Faculty Teaching and Learn-
ing Committee and several School Teaching and Learning Committees, a central assessment
working party, a central awards application selection and vetting committee, and a curriculum
steering committee in a particular School.
For the academic developer their internal service is done with and for members of every
disciplinary and organisational group
other than
their own, and often the range of service
D. Bath and C. Smith
commitments is extensive and concurrent. This is the issue of disciplinary “diversity” which is
the quintessential characteristic of the academic developer’s daily work, and is in contrast to
the character of a discipline academic’s typical internal service commitments, which tend be
less and much more homogeneous, operating within their own disciplinary or organisational
In terms of external service there are typically two kinds of community engagement, either
(1) with discipline and/or allied professions or groups, or (2) involving professions or groups
outside the consultant’s discipline area but where the client engages in an area related to the
academic’s expertise. For example, in the first instance external service may involve a disci-
pline academic in engineering consulting with practitioner engineers, or an academic devel-
oper consulting with other academic developers in an external university. In the second
instance, this service may involve a discipline academic in business accounting consulting with
practitioner engineers about business accounting, or an academic developer consulting with
discipline academics in another university about teaching and learning in higher education.
Whereas the first type of service, being directly related to the discipline, is probably the
most common form of external service for the discipline academic, it is probably a much less
frequent form for the academic developer compared to the amount of external service under-
taken in the second category which involves clients outside the discipline (that is, consulting
with disciplinary academics in other universities about teaching and learning matters). For the
academic developer their core work is characterised by this disciplinary “externality” and
“diversity”, where, although the service provided may be on the topic of teaching and learning
in higher education, the clients of this type of service are not engaged in teaching and learning
as their core business.
Ultimately, these similarities and differences are not the point, however. The point is that
both academics and academic developers are engaged in the category of work known as
service, and that in the provision of service both approach the task as a legitimate, honour-
able, privilege requiring a high standard of advice that is current, underpinned by research,
valid and reliable. Service engaged in by academics of all disciplines is a scholarly endeavour,
informed by research produced by the academics and their colleagues in the discipline, as well
as by professional practitioners in the field. While this research serves to inform the practitio-
ner community, service engagement often results in research and practice collaborations that
generate insights and new research findings that in turn inform the discipline community.
Summary: Similarities and Differences
To summarise, Table 1 represents the parallels between academics in the disciplines and
academics working in academic development roles in terms of the three key areas, teaching,
research and service.
As can be seen, there are few areas of difference in the roles that each group fulfils. While
most discipline-based academics are involved in both undergraduate and postgraduate teach-
ing, academic developers are usually only involved in postgraduate teaching. While their
research impacts on teaching in postgraduate mode only, the overlap between research and
teaching is as important to academic developers as it may be to discipline academics. Despite
the fact that academic developers are not generally involved in undergraduate teaching, we
still value and undertake research-led teaching. For example, Brew (2003) suggests that there
Academic Developers
Table 1. Teaching, research and service roles for academics and academic developers
Discipline Academic Academic Development Unit Academic
Research into discipline x or one of it’s sub-disciplines:
Psychology—Clinical, Cognitive, Behavioural
Research into higher education or one of its sub disciplines:
Higher Education—Assessment, Student learning,
Educational technology
Discipline Academic Academic Development Unit Academic
Undergraduate: Undergraduate:
(not as part of academic development, although some
academic developers still teach in their ‘former’ disciplines)
Hons/Masters/PhD students in discipline
Hons/Masters/PhD students in Higher Education
Continuing Professional Education:
professionals working in the community in the
discipline (e.g. clinical psychologists)
Continuing Professional Education
academic staff/colleagues as students
summative and formative methods
resulting in grading for a course
: varies, often formative rather than summative,
depends on whether there is a formal course such as a Grad
Discipline Academic Academic Development Unit Academic
External Community Service:
Expert advice to cognate discipline practitioners e.g.
discipline outreach / research dissemination
Expert advice to practitioners beyond consultant’s
External Community Service:
Expert advice to cognate discipline practitioners e.g.
discipline outreach / research dissemination
Expert advice to practitioners beyond consultant’s
Internal Service:
School—administrative / T&L Committee
Faculty—administrative / T&L Committee
University—T&L Committee, governance
Internal Service:
School—administrative / T&L Committee
Faculty—administrative / T&L Committee
University—T&L Committee, governance
Service / Research
Discipline Academic Academic Development Unit Academic
Informed contribution to:
committee work
outside consultations
expert advice
Informed contribution to:
committee work
outside consultations
expert advice
Research / Teaching
Discipline Academic Academic Development Unit Academic
Research influences:
curriculum for undergraduate teaching
curriculum for postgraduate teaching
Research influences:
curriculum for postgraduate teaching
Teaching / Service
Discipline Academic Academic Development Unit Academic
T&L Committees (University, Faculty, School) T&L Committees (University, Faculty, School)
T&L Policy working groups and committees T&L Policy working groups and committees
Teaching teachers about service (
induction into Head
of School or T & L Committee Chair roles)
s indicate the concentration of activities in the area;
indicates an area not covered by the work role.
Internal service for discipline academics is typically within their discipline and organizational grouping whereas internal
service for academic developers is typically outside their disciplinary and organizational grouping.
D. Bath and C. Smith
is a parallel between the notion of research-led teaching and what it means for the lecturer–
student relationship and the nature of much academic development work. In the former,
students are not simply an audience for the academic’s research as they become engaged in
the research process themselves. Similarly, with academic development, lecturers are not
simply an audience for higher education research, but are also engaged in activities of enquiry
and integration as they reflect on, research and develop their teaching in collaboration with an
academic developer.
In the area of service, the main difference between the two groups is in terms of degree of
involvement in certain activities rather than the nature of this work
per se
. For example,
academic developers tend to be more involved in committees and service at the institutional
level in comparison to academics in disciplines who tend to be more involved in School or
Faculty level committees (unless they hold a position of leadership such as Head of School in
which case they will have greater involvement at both institutional and school levels). The
only other area of difference is seen in the overlap between teaching and service, where
academic developers are sometimes in the unique position of providing development for
academics for carrying out leadership roles in Faculties or Schools.
Although we have presented a view in which academics and academic developers are
seen as more similar than different, Andresen (1996) has argued that the work of an
academic developer is not regular academic work and that academic developers enjoy some
occupational freedoms not available to our academic colleagues in faculties or departments.
Andresen’s list of “special liberties” (p. 42) includes such things as: entering teaching
spaces on invitation in order to observe and critique teaching; handling confidential evalua-
tive data about teachers, interpreting these and offering advice based on them; participating
in judging processes for teaching awards and grants for teaching development; researching
and publishing about effective teaching and student learning in a variety of settings;
publishing advice and recommendations about effective teaching and learning; conducting
surveys and inquiries into aspects of teaching and learning across the institution; devoting
reading time to studying the generic literature on research and development in higher
education; and designing and running accredited academic programmes for teaching devel-
opment of academics. Although Andresen embraces the idea that academic development is
scholarly and academic in nature he infers from these “special liberties” deep differences
between academic development work and regular academic work, concluding that
academic development work is somehow quite distinct in character from regular academic
We take the view that this approach considerably misses the mark, by failing to recognise an
important distinction; the distinction between the types and categories of work done by
academics and academics developers and the disciplinary underpinnings of those types of
work. The day-to-day work of academics in different disciplines will always have some things
in common and some things that differ. But to focus on these things in order to assess
whether academics working in an area are regular academics is a folly. It is akin to making the
following argument:
Medicine is a real academic discipline, and academics in this discipline are “regular” academics.
Academics in engineering schools don’t sit on medical boards in training hospitals, use clinical
teaching methods, or assess using OSCE (all of which medical academics do).
Academic Developers
Therefore engineering academics are not “regular” academics and engineering is not a “regular”
academic discipline.
This approach rests upon a failure to distinguish the surface details, the day-to-day work types
and categories of activity, from the underlying character or nature of the supporting substrate.
Although there are differences between academic developers’ work and the work of academics
in disciplines, those differences are at once trivial, since they are differences in tasks and
activities, that is, surface phenomena. However, at the same time these surface phenomena
are significant because they evidence the existence of a deep structure underpinning them,
and giving rise to them, and it is this deep structure that is the discipline and the scholarly
nature of the work. It is the nature and character of this underlying structure that should
determine the question whether academic developers belong legitimately to a disciplinary
“tribe”, not the surface details of work types and categories; even though differences and simi-
larities in these areas can be informative. To answer the question we should ask, rather,
whether or not the underlying substrate is scholarly, informed by practitioner and theoretical
research, defined from time to time by its methods and the research questions at its cutting
edge, and so forth. Whereas Andresen infers deep difference from superficial differences, we
prefer to focus on the deep similarities in the underlying substrate of discipline.
In summary, we believe that the work of the academic developer is more similar to, than
different from, that of the discipline-based academic, that a well-established discipline exists
focussed upon a range of theoretical issues in higher education, including teaching and learn-
ing, and that the people who contribute to this discipline are generally its “tribal” members.
However, some of the contributors to and researchers in this discipline may not ascribe them-
selves to this discipline tribe, in that they are not those for which higher education is the
research focus; they are instead academics from disciplines other than the discipline of higher
education engaged in their second profession (c.f. Warren Piper, 1994), the scholarship of
teaching (Boyer, 1990a, 1990b). It is to this issue of the overlap between the disciplines of
academics and of academic developers that we now turn.
The Overlap Between the Disciplinary Boundaries of Academics and Academic Developers
Brew (2003) proposes that the major challenge facing academic developers involves how they
can most effectively work as a discipline community but also engage in legitimate peripheral
participation in other academic discipline communities as academic developers. While other
professionals may also need to engage in legitimate peripheral participation (Lave & Wenger,
1991) with the community or other disciplines, this is a challenge with particular salience for
academic developers. Unlike other discipline areas the focus of the academic developer’s
discipline is their own context—the milieu of higher education in which they, and others,
exist. Therefore, academic developers are in the unusual position of not being the only
contributors to, or participants in, the substance of their own discipline. In a single university,
every other discipline is involved in higher education through engagement in teaching and
learning, and as such academic developers engage in legitimate peripheral participation across
a vast array of different discipline contexts.
However, we believe that this challenge of legitimate peripheral participation is not a chal-
lenge to be faced only by academic developers. If academic developers take seriously the idea
22 D. Bath and C. Smith
that there exists a discipline of higher education, and that it is their domain of expertise, then
the scholarship of teaching engaged in by discipline academics must be seen as a case of legit-
imate peripheral participation in the academic developers’ domain of expertise, the discipline
of higher education.
The model in Figure 1 represents, within the higher education context, the domains of the
traditional disciplines and the domain of the higher education discipline, as separate yet over-
lapping. The segment in overlap represents, from the perspective of the discipline academic,
the scholarship of teaching and their legitimate peripheral participation (Lave & Wenger,
1991) in the discipline of higher education. From the perspective of the academic developer,
the segment in overlap represents either the application of educational theory (scholarship of
application in Boyer’s sense), or the legitimate peripheral participation in the scholarship of
(disciplinary) teaching done in collaboration with discipline academics. The non-overlapping
segments represent, respectively, from the perspective of the discipline academic, the scholar-
ship of enquiry (or research) in their discipline, and from the academic developer’s perspec-
tive, the scholarship of inquiry in the discipline of higher education.
Figure 1. Overlap of discipline boundaries for discipline academics and academic developers
The arrows indicate the extent of “incursion” by each party into the other party’s domain of
expertise, although this incursion is different for the two parties. As mentioned above, disci-
plinary academics have two areas in which they are expected to have or to develop expertise:
(1) in their discipline and (2) in their teaching of that discipline. Therefore, the legitimate
peripheral participation by the academic developer is an incursion into the discipline
academic’s secondary domain of expertise, whereas the legitimate peripheral participation by
the discipline academic is an incursion into the academic developer’s primary domain of
When discipline academics engage in the scholarship of teaching, they dip into (and some-
times contribute to) studies of teaching and learning that are rightly seen as part of (though
not the whole of) the bread-and-butter of the academic developer’s research agenda and area
of expertise. Conversely, when the academic developer collaboratively researches teaching
and learning in a discipline context with a disciple academic, the former dips into (and some-
times contributes to) the disciplinary scholarship in teaching and learning. This is one of the
two expertise areas for a discipline academic (the other being their disciplinary expertise, or
content knowledge). The result of disciplinary scholarship in teaching and learning is often just
an improvement in the (reflective) practice of the disciplinary academic, and is therefore local
in effect. Sometimes, however, the results of disciplinary scholarship in teaching and learning
contribute more broadly, through publication, to disciplinary audiences or communities.
Sometimes this disciplinary scholarship is designed so well, and has findings so important and
generalisable, that it can make a contribution beyond the discipline, to the research agendas
of a broader audience and community (the “tribal” confederates) of the academic developer.
Thus, a tension occurs in the realm of teaching and learning, for that is the area of higher
education research into which discipline tribes “dip” and to which they sometimes contribute
through the scholarship of teaching, but it is part of the very thing by reference to which
academic developers define themselves. There are different aspects to this tension. First, as
Gosling (2003) proposes, most concepts relevant to academic development are essentially
“contested concepts” to which different meanings are attached by different people who
espouse different belief systems—political, psychological, ideological, cultural. We are seeing
an increasingly strong commitment to, and belief in, the notion of disciplinary differences in
Academic Developers 23
teaching and learning (Becher, 1994; Hativa, 1997; Healey, 2000; Healey & Jenkins, 2003;
Neumann, 2001; Neumann, Parry, & Becher, 2002) where educational research is often
perceived as irrelevant to the contexts in which teaching and learning occurs in different disci-
plines, and therefore academic developers are considered unable to provide suitable expertise
or experience to assist in teaching development.
Moreover, there seems to be a double-standard operating in relation to perceptions of
academic developers. On the one hand they are seen as involved in a “generic, atheortical and
non-academic activity” (Rowland, 2001, 2003) which lacks academic credibility. But on the
other hand, academic development work which is practical rather than theoretical has tended
to be more valued by other academics, and as Webb (1996) suggests, developers have had to
continuously prove their usefulness through being pragmatic. It seems that there is great
confusion (or ignorance) about the ways in which academic development and the discipline of
higher education can be of use to discipline-based academics.
Figure 1. Overlap of discipline boundaries for discipline academics and academic developers
24 D. Bath and C. Smith
A good example of this exists in the work of Rowland and colleagues (Rowland et al., 1998)
described in the beginning of this paper, where they suggest that “lost amongst their cyclical,
circular and spiralling ‘theories’ of learning, detached from any subject matter, they become
like…professors who have nothing to profess” (p. 135). A co-author of this paper (Byron)
states, in relation to her own teaching, “what I can’t work out is how to extrapolate something
general and practical out of my practice and my hunches concerning the fear barrier”
(Rowland et al., 1998, p. 137) where lowering this fear barrier in students is her greatest
ambition. It is a forgivable myopia that Byron cannot work this out, because researching
teaching and learning beyond her own classroom (or discipline) is not really her responsibil-
ity. As shown in the model above, the generic or generalisable research in teaching and learn-
ing is the primary research focus of an academic developer. However, as part of engaging in
scholarship of teaching, which is Byron’s responsibility, she may draw on more generic
research findings or indeed the expertise and experience of the academic developer in explor-
ing the fear her students experience, and the ways in which her teaching approach might help
them to overcome their fear. This is where the academic developer becomes useful to a disci-
pline academic, through consultation or collaborative classroom research, for example, in
supporting Byron to (1) theorise her practice and hunches, and (2) to discover the generalis-
able through systematic enquiry into her students’ fear, her teaching practice and the links
between the two. Byron could then go on to share these insights and approaches to teaching
with her discipline (or other) colleagues, as a result of engaging in that which is her responsi-
bility, the scholarship of teaching—critical reflection on practice, systematic investigation and
evaluation, exploration of theory informing practice, acquisition of knowledge about teaching
and learning in higher education, and communicating this to other practitioners (Gosling,
2003; Hutchings & Shulman, 1999).
A second tension resulting from the overlapping area of teaching and learning, is related to
the perception of educational research in general. As noted earlier, the research engaged in by
academic developers (that is, in the discipline of higher education) tends still to suffer the
same critique and low status that education and many other arts and humanities disciplines
often do. Such perceptions are likely to be firmly entrenched as part of the discipline cultures
that have developed over a long period of time. However, part of the unique position in which
academic developers find themselves, in terms of their engagement in legitimate peripheral
participation in the teaching and learning activities of other academic communities, may in
fact provide them with a means to dissipate this rather negative view of educational research.
Unlike their colleagues in the arts and humanities, they have the opportunity to break down
the perception that research in teaching and learning lacks academic rigour and character
through their work with other academics; as social stereotypes can be broken down by experi-
ence and exposure. Experience and exposure are necessary but not sufficient for this end,
however. If academic developers are to succeed in claiming and deserving the right to respect
and credibility, they must make explicit the research underlying both the theories of their
discipline and their pragmatic engagement with the day-to-day teaching problems that they
help discipline academics to research and resolve. When academic developers collaboratively
engage in the scholarship of teaching with discipline academics, the latter can gain a fuller
appreciation of educational research and theory. But it requires more than this for academic
developers to gain credibility; they must also claim “tribal” ownership of their disciplinary
“territory”. This “territory” exists. The problem is that it is not properly claimed.
Academic Developers 25
When academic developers begin to claim their disciplinary territory, Andresen’s imaginary
dinner party conversation from the mid 1990s may become more of a reality:
…all academics are equally important and we respect one another. They have their specializations,
I have mine. Mine just happens to be studying the big picture – teaching and learning in general –
while theirs might be research and teaching in a particular subject…I respect them for their subject
knowledge, and they respect me for mine. A healthy university needs both of us. (Andresen, 1996,
p. 44)
Moreover, like Healey and Jenkins (2003) recently suggested, both discipline academics and
academic developers can, through valuing the contribution of each other, work together to
raise the status of teaching within higher education.
Concluding Comments
In conclusion, academic development should be seen as academic activity engaged in by a
community of scholars in higher education. Moreover, the study of higher education should
be seen as a discipline in its own right, perhaps a maturing one, but nonetheless one deserving
of respect and credibility, one with well developed (and developing) research agendas and
methods, and with germane and applicable findings. While there are important and obvious
differences between the work of academics and that of academic developers, we argue that
much of this difference can be found in surface features and day-to-day activities rather than
the underlying nature of the work; for both, this is the scholarly nature of the research, teach-
ing and service they engage in. However, we also recognise that this discipline of higher
education will only be treated with respect when academic developers claim the discipline, so
characterised, as their own “tribal territory”. To achieve this, academic developers must
acknowledge that their work is defensible by reference to a body of high quality research in the
discipline, and that it is academic work by its very nature. Whether or not developers in prac-
tice underpin their work with this research is a matter of personal professional reflective prac-
tice; like discipline academics, academic developers should always be engaged in scholarship
of their discipline and of their practice.
Notes on Contributors
Debra Bath is a lecturer in psychology, and former lecturer in higher education at the Teaching
and Educational Development Institute, The University of Queensland. Her research
interests include the links between memory and student learning, educational evaluation,
professional development and the assessment of quality in higher education.
Calvin Smith is a lecturer in higher education and evaluation at the Teaching and Educational
Development Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. His research
interests include educational evaluation, collaborative learning, learning communities and
the assessment of quality in higher education.
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... Sur la base de ces principes, les conseillers construisent des outils d'analyse qui contribuent au développement d'une identité professionnelle propre (Bath & Smith, 2004). Par exemple, Cruz (2016) identifie quatre grands domaines de développement d'une « excellence académique » propre aux conseillers pédagogiques : la pratique quotidienne, l'intégration dans la pratique de différentes perspectives issues d'autres domaines, les rôles institutionnels des conseillers dans l'enseignement supérieur et la synthèse de recherches pour alimenter une veille pédagogique et documenter les conseils délivrés. ...
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Cet ouvrage examine, à partir de chantiers empiriques, les questions posées par la conception des dispositifs au long de parcours de formation professionnelle. Il s’adresse au monde de la recherche, mais aussi aux étudiant·e·s, aux praticien·ne· s engagé·e ·s dans l’ingénierie de formation ou dans l’ingénierie de curricula de professionnalisation et de développement des compétences. Il vise une meilleure compréhension de l’articulation entre trois pôles : l’évolution des métiers ; le processus de professionnalisation et de développement des compétences ; les conditions de parcours de formation professionnelle tenant compte des gens du métier et des structures qui les emploient. Ce recueil de contributions - issues du monde de la recherche comme de la pratique - s’attache aussi bien à l’analyse des actions qu’aux méthodes et concepts en usage au sein du monde de l’emploi, des métiers, du travail. Ce, tant dans le cadre de la conception des dispositifs proposés au sein des parcours de formation que dans la conception des référentiels et des modalités d’évaluation, voire de certification. Une belle diversité d’univers professionnels de la formation est examinée à partir d’études et de recherches empiriques.
... Academic development is a growing field of research and practice globally (Manathunga 2006;Quinn 2003Quinn , 2012); yet there is often much uncertainty about what academic development staff and units do in tertiary institutions (Staniforth and Harland 2003;Bath and Smith, 2004). Academic development (also called educational development in the UK and Antipodes) refers to "a range of developmental and research practices aimed at the professionalization of teaching and learning in higher education" (Shay 2012, p. 311). ...
... How do we know they are effective and for whom? To succeed "in claiming and deserving the right to respect and credibility," we must, as Bath and Smith (2004) argue, "make explicit the research underlying both the theories of [our] discipline and [our] pragmatic engagement with the day-to-day teaching problems" we help others resolve (p. 24). ...
In recent decades, there has been growing concern about teacher preparation at university and the link to educational quality. As a result, higher education institutions have designed programmes to help faculty teachers further their development in their professional careers. However, the literature pinpoints a lack of empirical evidence on professional development (PD) policies at university level due to the limited tradition of research and evaluation at this educational stage. The aim of this research is to provide an overview of the actions and programmes for the professional learning of new academics at university institutions. To this end, we conducted a systematic review of the international literature, based on 262 papers from three international databases, of which a total of 18 were analysed in depth. This study examines the types of programme, content and learning outcomes. The findings show that most programmes deploy mentoring versus other modalities, although duration and content are heterogeneous. In addition, mentor selection and training is revealed as a key element for programme success. Finally, we present a number of lessons learned that may be useful for university induction programme design.
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This study elaborates on the epistemological foundations of Turkish higher education research drawing on data from 854 doctoral dissertations with an analytical framework based on the institutional organization of researchers and knowledge, the object of study, and the object of knowledge. The results imply that the long-established state higher education institutions (universities) have been the power engines of Turkish higher education research, which gained momentum with the millennium. Male gendered, full professorship, single supervision, and local PhDs were the salient features of advisors. The primary objects of study were topics related to student experience, institutional management, and teaching and learning. As for the object of knowledge, Turkish higher education research was found to be descriptive, regardless of the adopted research methodology. The doctoral dissertations within a maximum of ten different universities and 600 respondents, based on random sampling, had a commanding lead. Undergraduate students and state universities were also fertile components. The paper concludes by proposing the establishment of a dynamic resource database and the incorporation of certain theories and approaches in Turkish higher education research.
This paper shares the experience of a group of academic developers’ engagement in collaboratively working towards the completion of an online open-access professional development (PD) course designed to support higher education teachers to engage with a new professional development framework. Committee members of the Educational Developers in Ireland Network set out to complete the course as a demonstration of their commitment to their own PD and to experience the process with a view to becoming facilitators of the course. An auto-ethnographic approach was used to capture this experience, and findings demonstrate an inspiring alternative to PD that supports academic developers in the quest to legitimise and prioritise their own PD in the context of highly pressurised roles.
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Higher education, or more strictly higher education studies, is sometimes referred to as a discipline, though it is more often referred to as a field, sector or area for study. But what is a discipline and does higher education studies, at its current state of development, qualify as one? This article re-considers these matters and comes to some conflicting conclusions. The issue of whether higher education studies is, or is not, a discipline should probably, therefore, be regarded as still open for debate.
Non-standard faculty are individuals with faculty appointments, but whose responsibilities fall outside the traditional faculty role. Non-standard faculty are often overlooked in conversations about SoTL, but they play an integral part in the teaching and learning that occurs on post-secondary campuses. Due to the focus on local context within SoTL, non-standard faculty greatly benefit from this type of professional development. Using the micro, meso, macro, and mega framework, the authors of this chapter describe how educational developers can support non-standard faculty in using SoTL for professional development. This common SoTL framework helps educational developers bring non-standard faculty into SoTL conversations while also recognizing the unique teaching environments in which they work.
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In the past decade the importance and quality of teaching have received increased attention from policy makers as well as from higher educationalists. However, studies of university teaching and learning essentially remain focused on generic aspects, thus belying their complexity and diversity. This is in contrast to the recognition that academics identify most strongly with their discipline. Further, Becher's classic study of Academic Tribes and Territories demonstrated the strong interconnection between disciplinary culture and disciplinary knowledge. This article draws together existing, but largely scattered, research findings on teaching and learning under an established framework of broad disciplinary classifications. In doing so, it examines the nature of teaching, teaching and learning processes, and teaching outcomes across the different disciplines. The picture presented demonstrates scope for future macro, meso and micro level studies to seek explanations for systematic disciplinary differences. It suggests how the results of this research can be used to inform institutional and government policy to make the governance of higher education fairer and more effective.
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There is an international debate about the development of the scholarship of teaching. It is argued here that the scholarship of teaching needs to be developed within the context of the culture of the disciplines in which it is applied. The scholarship of teaching involves engagement with research into teaching and learning, critical reection of practice, and communication and dissemination about the practice of one's subject. This provides a challenging agenda for the development of subject-based teaching. Implementing this agenda includes applying the principles of good practice in the disciplines; developing the status of teaching; developing the complementary nature of teaching and research; and undertaking discipline-based pedagogic research. The paper is illustrated with particular reference to the discipline of geography.
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The growing literature on undergraduate teaching and learning currently lacks an organising framework. This article sets out to provide one, distinguishing between hard pure, soft pure, hard applied and soft applied fields of study, and hence making it possible to highlight generally unremarked similarities and differences between the various research findings. In doing so, it draws extensively on the relevant literature, offering separate analyses of knowledge-related and socially related studies. The former embody curriculum, assessment and cognitive purpose, while the latter encompass group characteristics of teachers, types of teaching method and student learning requirements. The concluding section draws out the main implications for policy and practice related to staff development, computer-based learning, assessment of student learning and quality measures.
The American professoriate is enormously differentiated by discipline and type of institution on such primary dimensions of professionalism as patterns of work, identification, authority, career, and association. Integration across the professoriate no longer comes primarily from similarity of function and common socialization, but from the overlap of subcommunities and the mediating linkages provided by the ties of discipline and institution.