Variation and relevance structures for university teachers’ learning: Bringing about change in ways of experiencing teaching

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Quality Conversations Vol. 25

July, 2002, 794 pages
Published by
Tony Herrington
ISBN
0 908557 54 X
Abstract 

One aim of academic development is to help university teachers become aware of and capable of using student-focused ways of experiencing teaching. Phenomenographic approaches which focus on variation and relevance structures for learning offer one possibility for affording changes in teachers’ awareness. This paper proposed a refined phenomenographic approach, based on both recent developments in phenomenography and the findings of an empirical study of variation in ways of experiencing change in teaching. The study showed how teachers focused on different dimensions of variation when they described changes in teaching and perceived different relevance structures for change. Teachers who focused on variation in ways of experiencing teaching and sought to understand teaching and learning were more likely to be or become aware of student-focused ways of experiencing teaching. Those who focused on variation in content or teaching strategies and sought to improve their own interest or comfort or their students’ behaviour did not perceive variation between teacher and student- focused ways of experiencing teaching and remained teacher-focused. The paper proposes an approach which may help teachers to discern and focus on the critical aspects of variation between student-focused and teacher-focused ways of experiencing teaching, by focusing on variation in ways of experiencing the same teaching strategies.

Keywords: variation, phenomenography, ways of experiencing teaching, academic development

Variation and relevance structures for university teachers’ learning: Bringing about change in ways of experiencing teaching

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McKenzie, J.