Motivating Continuing Professional Development : Factors Influencing University Academic Staff And The Implications For Management

King, Karen (2004). Motivating Continuing Professional Development : Factors Influencing University Academic Staff And The Implications For Management. EdD thesis The Open University.



This is a study about a specific aspect of educational practice and the relationship between relevant theories and that practice. It focuses on educational management in higher education and, in particular, the management of continuing professional development (CPD) for academic staff. The research question that this study seeks to answer is ‘what factors are influencing university academic staff to engage with CPD?’ The study then goes on to determine the implications for managers of the research findings and makes recommendations to university managers that will enhance the motivation of staff to engage with CPD.

In pursuing this research, the study uses educational management concepts and models to explore how higher education institutions are managed, with particular reference to how the appraisal aspect of CPD is managed and how this might affect the motivation of academics to engage with CPD. It includes an examination of the external environment of higher education and attempts to explain where the pressures for change are coming from and how these pressures are influencing working practices in higher education institutions (HEIs). The concepts of CPD and motivation are analysed in this context, as well as the concept of the learning organisation and how this relates to CPD for higher education personnel. The management of CPD within HEIs is considered with particular reference to appraisal processes. In addressing these issues, qualitative data on the perceptions of CPD and how it is currently being managed have been gathered from academics and their line managers in three universities and analysed in relation to theoretical models of educational management.

Cultural tensions were found within universities in the areas of strategic implementation, performance management and ‘middle’ management development. These appear to derive primarily from two sources. The first is the conflict between senior management rationality and the collegial decision making approach favoured by academics. The second is related to academic autonomy and the issue of accommodating individual as well as institutional needs in development activities. The link connecting these two sources is the existence of conflict between individual and institutional needs exemplified by appraisal processes in HE. Suggestions for organisational development to reduce conflict and resistance to change are given. However, there are other environmental factors, which need to be addressed by the wider academic community that will influence any development. One is a curriculum development issue centred on the acceptability by academics of professional development as a core higher level educational aim, and another is the current narrow focus of the Institute of Teaching and Learning (ILT) as a professional body for academics.

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