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Continuing professional development in higher education: voices from below

By Karin Crawford

Abstract

The purpose of this research is to further understanding of faculty-based academics’ views on what influences their understandings, behaviours and attitudes towards their continuing professional development. Informed by critical realist ontology, it is argued that it is necessary to explore academics’ understandings and accounts of professional development in their practice context in order to gain a better understanding of the complexity and differential practices that underlie professional development in academia. In doing so, the research addresses the current under-representation in the literature of the voices of faculty academics about what influences their approaches to professional development. The data collection was carried out during the academic year 2007-8, using a qualitative multi-case study approach. Methods included semi-structured, narrative interviews with academics, more structured interviews with ‘key informants’ and examination of relevant institutional documents. Findings from this research have enabled new themes and areas for reflection to emerge about the constraints and enablements academics perceive in respect of their professional development. In particular, themes such as issues of interpretation and meaning; concepts of professional status and academic values; misaligned initiatives and priorities; the influence of supportive networks; and emergent personal, individual concerns have surfaced. The conclusion is drawn that the significance of agency raises the importance of opening the debate and responding to the ‘voices from below’

Topics: X200 Research and Study Skills in Education, X342 Academic studies in Higher Education, X300 Academic studies in Education
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lincoln.ac.uk:2146

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