Nearly but Not Quite: Establishing a Sense of Community amongst Academic Developers

By Deesha Chadha.

Published by The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education

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Academic development as a discipline is still marked by a lack of professional identity (Grant, 2007; Rowland, 2007) due in part to its ‘newness’ as a profession and to a suggested lack of coherence in what we do in the UK (Eggins and Macdonald, 2003). The ramifications of this are that it has proved difficult for us to create a community of expert teaching practitioners or high-quality researchers within higher education as we are still grappling with this idea of knowing which values and belief systems ought to be adopted to inform our sense of community. According to Land (2004), we could assume any one of twelve different identities including the romantic and the provocateur so clearly there is some degree of confusion. Using Land’s twelve orientations, research was conducted with nine academic developers, through semi-structured interviews, (Cohen et al. 2007) to establish whether we are any closer to forming a shared identity and therefore a collegial sense of purpose and community. The findings reveal that even though there were differences amongst the academic developers in terms of prioritising the orientations, the ensuing commentary suggested that malleability and sustainability are key aspects in the formation of identity amongst academic developers.

Keywords: Academic Development, Professional Identity, Community

The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp.107-118. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 302.717KB).

Dr. Deesha Chadha

Lecturer in Higher Education, King's Learning Institute, King's College, London, UK

Having graduated as a chemical engineer in 1998, I embarked upon a PhD which considered the education of engineers and particularly their development of transferable skills. My understanding of how learning occurs increased substantially throughout my studies, in addition to my interest in teaching and the mechanisms which enable learning to occur. As programme leader of the Graduate Certificate of Academic Practice programme (GCAP), I have further developed this interest, most especially towards considering curriculum design and its impact upon learning, the student - teacher relationship, and its ensuing analysis. I am in the process of conducting an impact analysis on the GCAP programme as part of an MA in academic development. I am a reviewer for the International Journal of Engineering Education and a reviewer for the European Journal of Engineering Education. I was also on the conference organisation committee for the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning conference, 2009.