Rhetoric of the digitized faculty – a cross cultural ethnographic study of higher education lecturers at the cross-roads of pedagogic change

Glover, H.; Collins, H. and Myers, F. (2017). Rhetoric of the digitized faculty – a cross cultural ethnographic study of higher education lecturers at the cross-roads of pedagogic change. In: EDULEARN17 Proceedings, IATED, pp. 7735–7743.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2017.0407


Following on from a recent study into the impact of automation of student support on facultys’ identity and personal well-being, this paper demonstrates the importance of considering lived in experiences of lecturers during the introduction of a disruptive digitized change strategy in a UK Business School. This second stage reports on a comparative study comparing values and experiences with the UK university and an American university based in the Middle East.

With cost-orientated moves to expanding online provision through emergent technologies and the growth of alternative HE strategies, such as credit-bearing MOOCS, traditional group-orientated student and lecturer interactions are developing into a continuum. Whilst a digitized strategy is aiming to increase student numbers and retention, and has standardised the student experience in terms of academic qualification communications, these messages have necessarily required adjunct teaching staff to learn new processes, thus unlearning previous pedagogical support routines and this has altered their academic role and their perception of their academic identity.

This research was undertaken using auto ethnography and in-depth interviews with lecturers of both institutes, which were transcribed and analysed using content analysis with the aim of uncovering the effect on lecturers identity processes, changes to their role and in consequence their perception of their own academic identity. The investigation adds to emerging literature by examining the underreported lived experiences of faculty at the ‘teaching coal face’ during this period of disruptive change at the UK institute and its impact on a group of teaching academics as an outcome of the change initiative. We then compared this with an emergent rather than radical digitization change process undertaken at the American university.

Study into these changes to academic routines and identity has value, as the shifts in perceived identity demonstrate a tangible impact on the teaching academics’ motivation; their role and perception of their identity and has resulted in resistance to change. This project adds to the literature as much existing retention literature privileges the institutional or student experience, and much of learning / unlearning literature is in a non-educational setting. Therefore combined with academic identity this gives insight into the values of developing an institutional inclusive culture during change processes.

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