Educational development and pedagogical leadership in higher education

Conditions for teaching and learning in higher education have changed, for instance through internationalisation, limited funding, widening participation, and digital development. University teachers and educational leaders are continuously striving to find new ways to develop their courses and educational programs. Furthermore, in-service training for university teachers, educational development projects, and systems for quality assurance are developed to improve higher education. The effects of such activities and initiatives, alone or in combination, cannot be taken for granted. Our research aims is to attain a deeper understanding of how interventions like these can converge and lead to educational development. A particular focus is the development and practise of leadership in an educational landscape that is becoming more and more complex. Examples of ongoing projects can be found here.

Implementing an educational policy in higher education

In a longitudinal research project we study the implementation process of an educational policy and how this affects higher education practices. We regard policy implementation as a complex process influenced by how the policy is valued by those whom it affects, by the organizational distance to its origin, by organizational culture, and by the relationship between the organizational culture and the coordinative function of the policy. In our data, we can distinguish how the expectations of various affected parties on the policy’s effects are formed by differences in time perspectives. We recognize that the intricate and mutual effects of these (time) perspectives on each other obstructs the feasibility of identifying and studying a particular policy implementation as an isolated event. Moreover, we acknowledge that an implementation process of the kind studied here is characterized by negotiations. We see that the local level leaders, along with academic teachers, construct individual interpretations, as well as ways to act in accordance with these interpretations. The policy’s coordinative function is thereby challenged. We suggest that expectations on policy implementation in complex and autonomous institutions such as universities should acknowledge this complexity as inherent and unavoidable. Our findings question an understanding of policy evaluation in general as instrumental identification of intended outcomes.

Would you like to know more? Contact Johanna Bergqvist Rydén

Collegiality in higher education – a lived experience.

In this project we explore, based on participatory observations and interviews, the importance of collegiality for educational development and quality work. In particular we focus on how different groups of academic teachers, doctoral students, and student representatives interact with each other and what their views are on common discipline-related issues concerning teaching and learning, course-specific literature, course evaluations, syllabi, and educational development. Preliminary analyses indicate high engagement and responsibility, different group dynamics in different collegial groups, an invisibility of collegial, non-documented learning, and the intrinsic power of collegially-owned and practice-based educational development.

Would you like to know more? Contact Katarina Mårtensson

Learning together in a global pandemic: Practices and principles for teaching and assessing online in uncertain times. 

In this U21-funded project we explore, in collaboration with colleagues in Australia and Scotland, how academic teachers (re)acted in March 2020 when a global pandemic (Covid-19) forced all university teaching to move online. Experiences – positive as well as less positive – have been collected through surveys and in-depth interviews from a range of different courses, disciplines, and subjects. One common feature across all contexts is how much the teachers have missed the interaction they were previously able to have with students in campus-based, in-person teaching. At the same time, there is a consistent pattern in our data that suggests that teachers have also discovered something new in the digital environment that they can continue to use in order to support student learning in the future.

Would you like to know more? Contact Katarina Mårtensson

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