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The influence of sociocultural and structural contexts in academic change and development in higher education

Authors
  • Englund, Claire
  • Olofsson, Anders D.
  • Price, Linda
Type
Published Article
Journal
Higher Education
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Publication Date
Mar 10, 2018
Volume
76
Issue
6
Pages
1051–1069
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s10734-018-0254-1
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

Teaching quality improvements frequently focus upon the ‘development’ of individual academics in higher education. However, research also shows that the academics’ context has considerable influence upon their practices. This study examines the working environments of teachers on an online pharmacy programme, investigating contextual conditions that facilitate or impede academic change and development. Interview data and institutional policy documents are examined within a Cultural-Historical Activity Theory framework. Distinct differences in the teachers’ sociocultural context were identified as influencing change and development. Departmental teaching cultures and patterns of communication influenced practice both positively, by offering collegial support, and negatively by impeding change. The findings have significance for academic development strategies. They suggest that departmental-level support should include communicative pathways that promote reflection upon and development of conceptions of teaching and learning.

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