Academics teaching in higher education face multiple pressures from within their institutions and from external factors. The work of academics is surrounded by uncertainty and complexity. These challenges mean it is very important to understand the implications of their practice for student learning (Knight, et al. 2006; Lodewijks, 2012). Professional learning activities aiming to prepare academics for their teaching role take various forms. At the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) two professional learning activities are undertaken across cohorts of new and experienced academics: Foundations of University Teaching (Foundations) and Peer Assisted Teaching Scheme (PATS). The Foundations course aims for participants to critically reflect on their teaching practice, develop an advanced understanding of learning and teaching in higher education and engage with a variety of contemporary approaches in order to appraise these for application to their own teaching context. PATS enables academics to undertake a series of structured activities in collegial supported partnerships. Reflection on teaching practice through these activities opens new avenues for research and motivates academics to undertake a different trajectory of scholarship (Bulman, 2015). This study aims to ascertain the impact of professional learning as applied to teaching practice, from the perspective of the participants own narrative. It is evident that through the process of illuminating teaching practice academics are inspired to increased generation and circulation of ideas and enhanced collaboration with colleagues across disciplines to investigate learning & teaching issues. This study takes an innovative participatory approach to capturing the changes from the participants own perspective ‘ through text and visual artefacts. By reflecting on their learning journey and subsequent changes in practice, participants (the academics involved) generate artefacts that offer insight into transformative moments. True to photovoice methodology (Palibroda, et al., 2009) there were a number of prompt questions to stimulate participants exploration of the journey since Foundations or PATS and what it has meant for them. Participatory research does not create a theory or test a hypothesis; rather, it evaluates relevant and practical ideas. The ideas and outcomes from the photovoice narratives will lead to decisions about future professional learning and enable appraisal of the success of these institutional initiatives. This paper invites critical dialogue and appraisal from conference participants in relation to feedback on professional learning programs and their impact on scholarship.
12th International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) Annual Conference, Melbourne, Australia 27-30 October 2015
Proceedings of the 12th International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Annual Conference / pp.96