Constructing the good teacher in Higher Education: the discursive work of standards

Nicoll, Kathy and Harrison, Roger (2003). Constructing the good teacher in Higher Education: the discursive work of standards. Studies in Continuing Education, 25(1) pp. 23–35.



Professional development for academics in higher education is increasingly important in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Promoting better teaching practices through professional development is part of the drive for quality and excellence. However, the focus has been on teaching as a "technical" activity, defined as competence in a particular domain of practice. This has obscured the social and discursive practices through which a very particular sort of teacher identity is produced. It is possible, therefore, to examine the ways in which the standards of competence operate to normalise and fashion what it means to be a "good teacher". In this article, we examine extracts from course documentation produced by a UK university through which the professional standards of those working in higher education are being constituted. Our focus is not the quality of these particular materials but the work the documentation performs in building up a particular notion of what characterises a professional teacher in higher education.

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