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Are Australian universities promoting learning and teaching activity effectively? An assessment of the effects on science and engineering academics. (English)
Int. J. Math. Educ. Sci. Technol. 40, No. 7, Spec. Iss., 865-875 (2009).
Summary: The Australian Federal Government and Australian universities have embarked on a bid to raise the profile of learning and teaching (L\&T) in universities. Current strategies include increased funding of competitive grants for L\&T projects, a wider range of teaching awards and fellowships and a controversial new national competitive Learning and Teaching Performance Fund. Despite these initiatives, advertised positions still target strong researchers, rather, and rewards for L\&T initiatives are meagre. To assess the likely impact of these efforts, this report offers findings on the L\&T culture among two distinct groups of Australian science, technology and engineering academics: a comparison of the research and L\&T behaviours and attitudes of 22 senior academics, and the L\&T perceptions and needs reported by 32 academics across all levels. The results are unequivocal: (1) senior academics still perceive that there are far higher professional rewards for research activities than for L\&T activity, place far higher value on research leadership roles than L\&T leadership, and gain far more job satisfaction from research activities. Moreover, they feel that their seniors support and encourage them far more strongly for research efforts than for L\&T efforts; (2) academics at all levels still experience a lack of role models, support and reward for L\&T activities; and resent L\&T policies that neglect discipline-specific needs. The implications are clear. Unless rewards and support for L\&T activities become comparable to those for research, and mainstream job opportunities materialize for academics who invest substantial time in L\&T activities, national and institutional rhetoric strategies to encourage L\&T activity will continue to be judged as window-dressing and be received with cynicism; and changes in academic behaviour will be marginal.
Classification: C75 D45 B40
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