Central concepts

On the concept of Academic Development in the Formation and Competence Building of Academic Developers project

  • Academic development in higher education attempts to provide support to academic staff in order to learn about or improve their practices of teaching and research. It is less traditional to include academic development support for research in an academic staff member’s discipline; some academic developers’ support the exploration of the relationship between an academic staff members teaching and his or her research. Academic development may also include support for improving leadership capabilities of academic staff, whether in their university unit (department or school), their discipline, or through their engagement with their community. Depending on institutional traditions, goals of academic development may be to: 1) improve academics’ pedagogical/didactic repertoire in order to improve students learning outcomes; 2) increase academics’ self - awareness of their own formation; 3) obtain extramural funds; 4) increase research productivity; and 5) strengthen the university or its units by focusing the professional development of academic staff. Academic development is provided by courses, workshops, consultations, observations, evaluations and other opportunities to build the competence of academic staff, helping them to learn about and reflect on their practices.

On the concept of Formation

  • In a wider meaning the concept of formation focuses on a life-long, iterative process of how individuals develop and change, according to their past and ongoing experiences and reflection on those experiences. In this project, according to the working definition that will be refined and modified over time, we use the concept of formation with a more specific focus on how the priorities made in universities influence staff’s and students’ formation of their knowledge, skills, values, beliefs and moral responsibilities. Through the social mandate given to universities, the concept of formation thus provides a valuable resource as a means to explore the normative and moral orientations of current university education. Important empirical questions that follow from this is how intellectual, moral, political and cultural matters are addressed in higher education, through the different ways academic development is organized in universities, and ultimately how this is enacted in teaching.

    Elaborated definition

On the concept of Competence

  • Competence, and competence building seeks to combine knowledge and skill thus enabling in this instance—Academic Developers (AD) —to teach peers and senior leaders within their organisations about innovative pedagogies, while being similarly knowledgeable regarding research and leadership. Such responsibilities are particularly onerous, requiring both breadth and depth, with a commitment to sustained learning, thus investing in their own competence building while simultaneously being able to transform the competence of others. This competence building is executed so that not just the individuals concerned actually benefit, but those colleagues with whom they come in contact.

    Elaborated definition

Communities of Practice (CoP)

  • The theory of "Communities of practice" (CoP) builds on the idea that learning is a natural part of social participation and takes place when people with common interests collaborate over an extended period and share values, beliefs, language and ways of doing things. In this project we develop a cross cultural and international CoPof researchers and practicing academic developers based on mutual engagement, joint enterprise and shared repertoire related  to formation and competence building of academic developers.

    Elaborated definition

On the concept of Deliberative Communication

  • Deliberative communication stands for communication in which different opinions and values can be set against each other and evaluated. It implies an endeavor by each individual to develop his or her view by listening, deliberating, seeking arguments and valuing, coupled to a collective and cooperative endeavor to find values and norms which everyone can accept, at the same time as pluralism is acknowledged. We hereby present a characterization of deliberative communication (originally developed by Englund in Swedish 2000/2001 and in English in 2006 in Journal of Curriculum Studies):
  • Different views are confronted with one another and arguments for these different views are given time and space to be articulated and presented.
  • There is tolerance and respect for the concrete other and participants learn to listen to the other person’s argument.
  • Elements of collective will-formation are present, i.e. an endeavor to reach consensus or at least temporary agreements or to draw attention to differences.
  • Authorities or traditional views can be questioned and there are opportunities to challenge one’s own tradition.
  • There is also scope for participants to communicate and deliberate without leader presence, i.e. for argumentative discussions between participants with the aim of solving problems or shedding light on them from different points of view.

Elaborated definition

Public good

  • A public good is the contrast of a private good, two longstanding concepts from liberal political philosophy and political economy. Private good is described by Sen (2000/1999) as a good that competes and is exclusive, while a public good is something that all can benefit from. Increasing marketisation and competition in the realm of the knowledge-based economy has challenged the role of higher education serving the public good. While external demands often are legitimate, this mission can be understood as one of the core dilemmas in higher educational. The starting point for the discussion of public good in our project is how universities may teach values, beliefs, and moral responsibilities to upheld the public good. Magna Charta Universitatum underscores these values. As Universities are entrusted with responsibility to provide society with highly skilled professionals, citizens and leaders, who work for both individual and public interests, their priorities, will influence the formation and competence building of both staff and students.

    Elaborated definition
Published Nov. 2, 2015 3:47 PM - Last modified June 1, 2016 4:57 PM