Engaging with change in a post-Bologna teaching university in the Netherlands

Renou-Kirby, Nichola Helen (2011). Engaging with change in a post-Bologna teaching university in the Netherlands. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000d3ce


Change is endemic in modern society, and the educational systems that operate in it. In Higher Education societal trends such as globalization and economic rationalism are impacting on teachers. Changes in the student population, new educational methods derived from shifting perspectives on the role of knowledge and re-structuring of the organizations within which teachers work have also led to transformation of the professional context. At European level policy initiatives such as the Bologna Declaration (1999) have necessitated an overhaul of educational provision. This research project attempts to focus on these wide ranging changes through the lens of teacher autonomy in order to establish what is changing in the working lives of teachers in a Dutch university, how they are responding to these changes and how they can be helped to respond to change effectively and discriminatingly. This is an insider research project, using case study and semi-structured interviewing to yield data that is subjected to thematic linguistic analysis. It was piloted in 2006, and interviewing was resumed in February 2007. Findings indicate the contested nature of teacher autonomy, and suggest that professional autonomy can impede as well as facilitate teachers in processes of engaging with change. The team - operating as a community of practice - is identified as the location where change agency can operate most effectively. Distributed leadership - specifically perceived in the activities of team leaders and teacher change agents - is seen as crucial to processes of embedding change in educational practice.

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