Persuading the Dons?

Hawkridge, David (1979). Persuading the Dons? British Journal of Educational Technology, 10(3) pp. 164–174.



This paper stresses the importance of diffusing the results of educational research and development, particularly among dons, the academics of higher education.

Diffusion can be examined within a framework of three classes of strategies for bringing about change: rational-empirical, normative-re-educative, and power-coercive. The Open University provides examples of strategies from each class, because staff of the Institute of Educational Technology, responsible for a large share of the University's educational research and development, are actively pursuing them. Their interactions with other parts of the University can be represented in a model.

Like many models, this model is over-simplified and over-idealized. It is possible to provide examples of it working, but there are serious problems that hinder full development of the strategies on which the model is based. The problems hinge in particular upon resource shortages,‘translation’ difficulties between professionals, and the lack of products backed by valid evidence.

The paper ends by summarizing what the Institute is attempting to do to mitigate these problems and by asking what is happening to persuade the dons in conventional British universities.

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