Academics' metaphors and beliefs about university teaching (and learning)

Year: 2002

Author: McShane, Kim

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

University teaching is becoming more professional (Hativa and Goodyear, 2002); the discourse of 'the student experience' drives quality assurance processes, and lecturing staff are feeling compelled by institutional incentives and impositions to demonstrate improved curriculum and effective, efficient teaching. Cherished beliefs and teaching methods are changing. According to McWilliam and Palmer (1995), the certainty of 'standing and delivering' (lecturing) is coming to an end. How are academics experiencing these challenges to their teaching role and practices?

The qualitative research into academics' teaching beliefs and self-concept is meagre, with the most sustained research being the phenomenographic literature which attempts to identify and categorise lecturers' 'conceptions' of teaching. We know little about how academics actually see themselves as lecturers.

This paper discusses the teaching metaphors of 12 Australian academics who each teach in different disciplines and in online and face-to-face contexts. In the course of extended individual interviews with the researcher, the lecturer participants have shared images or metaphors that they believed represent them in their teaching role. In this presentation I will introduce the 12 academics through their metaphors, before presenting an interpretive analysis of these metaphors as a commentary on the changing role of the academic in the modern university.