The nature of the course team approach at the UK Open University

Chung, Hung-Ju (2001). The nature of the course team approach at the UK Open University. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis explores the nature of the course team approach at the UK Open University (UKOU) by investigating three issues: the formations of course teams, the process of working together in teams and the development of courses by teams.

Adopting the naturalist paradigm, data were collected from three course teams of the UKOU using observations, interviews and documents. Altogether, 42 hours of observations were carried out over six months by observing 14 course team meetings.There were 28 hours of interview data from 21 interviews of 17 interviewees. A range of documents was collected.

The study found that the formation of course teams is regulated by course approval protocol, and is derived from the effort of individual members. The responsibility of core academic course team members is vaguely demarcated. Academic's personal attributes are a key to team organisation. Previous experience of working together influences the members' current work in teams.

In the process of working together as a team in meetings, the study shows that the .agendas of course team meetings often include practical issues. The course team meetings are flooded with practical concerns with pedagogical concerns remaining in the background.

The development of courses by course teams, as this study shows, is framed by the system for course construction established by the University. An awareness of changing external environment contributes to the development of courses. There are differing views on the academic autonomy of academic course team members.

Theorising of major findings leads to conclude that. both course teams and their work are contextualised because they interact with systemic, interpersonal, personal and historical contexts. Therefore, the suggestions to the successful adoption of the course team approach emphasize academic's attributes, teamwork and the system for course construction set up by the institution.

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