Criteria for effective development of academic staffthrough practitioner research

Swithenby, Stephen and Hills, Laura (2009). Criteria for effective development of academic staffthrough practitioner research. In: SEDA Spring Learning Teaching & Assessment Conference 2009, 07-09 May 2009, Brighton.



Practitioner research is now increasingly prevalent within higher education institutions. This development is underpinned by a desire to bring together the teaching and research missions (Brew 006) and by a recognition that action research can offer an attractive entry point for teachers into research (Gray et al 2007, Kember 2002, Morris and Fry 2006). Since 2005, four Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETLs) at the Open University UK, have been supporting the work of nearly 300 practitioner researchers, drawn from fulltime and part-time teaching staff, in investigating innovative methods in teaching and learning within particular subjects or areas of student support. Within each CETL, individual practitioner researchers work on projects of their own choosing and of relevance to their own teaching practice and personal academic development. They are also expected to contribute to particular themes relevant to the broader aims of each CETL including the development of practitioner communities (Warhurst 2006). This joint focus on individual academic and institutional development brings with it a certain number of questions. In particular:
• How is practitioner research to be supported within the institution?
• How can practitioner research contribute to the academic development of the individual researcher?
• What role can community play in supporting individual practitioner research, and how is this best achieved?
• What implications are there for broader changes to teaching and learning within the institution?
• What methods can be used to promote and implement these changes?

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