New pedagogies in the knowledge society: Why this challenge is an epistemological one

Year: 2002

Author: O'Brien, Mia

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

As Australian higher education continues to evolve within an era of unprecedented change, academic professional development needs are becoming increasingly multifaceted and complex. Recent notions of 'new pedagogy' and 'the knowledge society' reflect a contextual and conceptual shift that places fresh demands and new dilemmas upon university teaching, curriculum development and program design. In particular, the question of how we conceptualise knowledge within the growing number of cross-disciplinary and transdisciplinary fields continues to challenge our epistemological and pedagogical understandings.

This discussion paper outlines some of the issues arising from these trends, and will outline the implications for reflective practice and professional development. It will draw upon recent research on teacher epistemology and the nature of knowledge in professional practice, to problematise this trend.

In doing so, several questions are raised for consideration and exploration:
• What are the epistemological implications that underpin the growing concern for universities to provide 'work-ready' graduates'
• How do we conceptualise knowledge in an era of cross-disciplinary and transdisciplinary fields of application'
• Given the curricular and pedagogical challenges we currently face, and how do we respond effectively to them'
• What are the implications for our theories of practice, our epistemological understandings and our personal philosophies of teaching'

The paper concludes by examining the broader issues for academic professional development as an ongoing concern for staff development, and for conceptualising quality of teaching within revised understandings of quality in curriculum and learning experiences in higher education.