What academics value: a comparative analysis of research into continuing professional development in four English universities

Crawford, Karin and Rothwell, Andrew and Bradley, Sally and Cope, Sandie (2008) What academics value: a comparative analysis of research into continuing professional development in four English universities. In: Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) Annual Conference, December 2008, Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool.

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Abstract

This conference presentation explored findings from four research projects, undertaken in different institutions. The projects highlighted the influence of the changing character of academic identities and the complexity of CPD in higher education (HE). Within this, the paper considered how institutions can respond to this knowledge, with particular regard to contemporary influences such as the UK Professional Standards Framework (HEA 2006).

Comparing four different evaluative approaches, the paper demonstrated how multi-faceted research approaches can bring different dimensions to a research area. Thus, for example, in one institution interviews, focus groups, and a survey to examine the attitudes, engagement and perceived priorities in relation to CPD were administered. A second institution developed case study methodology with action research, collating data at different levels. Another institution has undertaken evaluative analysis of existing provision, with the fourth institution carrying out qualitative, narrative research engaging academics across faculties and disciplinary areas.

Following exploration of these distinctive methodological approaches, the paper compared the respective findings, which provided evidence of contrasting perspectives and values related to CPD. Each of the studies emphasised that very different cultures and practices exist across the spectrum of subject, discipline and institutional cultures within HE. The concept of ‘trust’ emerges as a significant underpinning value-set that drives engagement in professional development. Furthermore, whilst academics value CPD, there are different approaches to what CPD actually means. Given the complexities of context and meaning, the relationship between valuing professional development and perceived engagement in activities (Rothwell and Arnold, 2005) is also considered. This affects strategic approaches, including implementation of the Professional Standards Framework (HEA 2006) and the value placed on it by both individual and institution. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is inappropriate if we are to respond to what academics value across the diversity of HE; flexibility to apply to subjects and individuals at local levels, is needed. Finally, the paper concluded that professional development in HE should rightly be subjected to analysis and debate across academic cultures and institutional contexts.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Presentation)
Additional Information:This conference presentation explored findings from four research projects, undertaken in different institutions. The projects highlighted the influence of the changing character of academic identities and the complexity of CPD in higher education (HE). Within this, the paper considered how institutions can respond to this knowledge, with particular regard to contemporary influences such as the UK Professional Standards Framework (HEA 2006). Comparing four different evaluative approaches, the paper demonstrated how multi-faceted research approaches can bring different dimensions to a research area. Thus, for example, in one institution interviews, focus groups, and a survey to examine the attitudes, engagement and perceived priorities in relation to CPD were administered. A second institution developed case study methodology with action research, collating data at different levels. Another institution has undertaken evaluative analysis of existing provision, with the fourth institution carrying out qualitative, narrative research engaging academics across faculties and disciplinary areas. Following exploration of these distinctive methodological approaches, the paper compared the respective findings, which provided evidence of contrasting perspectives and values related to CPD. Each of the studies emphasised that very different cultures and practices exist across the spectrum of subject, discipline and institutional cultures within HE. The concept of ‘trust’ emerges as a significant underpinning value-set that drives engagement in professional development. Furthermore, whilst academics value CPD, there are different approaches to what CPD actually means. Given the complexities of context and meaning, the relationship between valuing professional development and perceived engagement in activities (Rothwell and Arnold, 2005) is also considered. This affects strategic approaches, including implementation of the Professional Standards Framework (HEA 2006) and the value placed on it by both individual and institution. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is inappropriate if we are to respond to what academics value across the diversity of HE; flexibility to apply to subjects and individuals at local levels, is needed. Finally, the paper concluded that professional development in HE should rightly be subjected to analysis and debate across academic cultures and institutional contexts.
Keywords:Higher Education, Academic Development, Continuing Professional Development, Research in Higher Education, Academic perspectives
Subjects:X Education > X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Health & Social Care
ID Code:6088
Deposited By: Karin Crawford
Deposited On:28 Aug 2012 16:34
Last Modified:13 Mar 2013 09:12

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