The transition of identity from discipline scholar to scholar of teaching and learning: Tensions and reflections on the path to a fusion epistemology

Galloway, Kathrine, and Jones, Peter (2012) The transition of identity from discipline scholar to scholar of teaching and learning: Tensions and reflections on the path to a fusion epistemology. In: Abstracts from Academic Identities Conference 2012: thinking, researching and living otherwise, pp. 23-24. From: AIC 2012 Academic Identities Conference: thinking, researching and living otherwise, 25-27 June 2012, Auckland, New Zealand.

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Abstract

The past decade has seen a significantly greater emphasis placed upon teaching and learning, and the scholarship associated with it (SoTL), in Australian universities and internationally (Vardi, 2011; Hubball, Clarke & Poole, 2010; Brawley, Kelly & Timms, 2009). For many, this shift represents long overdue recognition of the centrality and importance of learning and teaching activities in higher education (Boyer, 1990; Chalmers, 2011). For individual academics however, opportunities to engage more fully in the SoTL may also present challenges to their core identities as discipline scholars and practitioners, and involve an epistemological shift towards educational and even managerial orientations (Ramsden, 1998). Such transitions and transformations are seldom easy and often present challenges not only to the academic's own sense of identity, but to their relationships with colleagues and peers within and outside their disciplines.

Academic identity is a complex construct. Becher and Trowler (2001) for example, describe 'tribes' within academia, and identify hierarchies based on discipline identities that embody a discipline-based epistemology. Outside a purely discipline context, Boyer (1990) articulates the domains of the academic's role including research and the SoTL. However, the rapidly changing institutional context is creating pressures and presenting challenges for individual academics, with implications for the formation and nature of identity (Billot, 2010). Clegg (2011) agrees that traditional academic identities are under threat but argues that new ways of constituting and imagining the 'self' are emerging as the pressures of neo-liberalism continue to bite. Opportunities for subversion, resilience and creativity in the creation and enactment of academic identities remain (Smith, 2010). For academics working within professional disciplines, tensions between primary identification as a professional or as a discipline academic may be further compounded by the opportunities and challenges associated with engaging in the SoTL. For some academics, discipline epistemologies may merge with the SoTL forging a fused professional identity.

The authors of this paper are both professional practitioners (law and social work) who entered the university as discipline-based scholars. Their respective interests in T&L have lead them both down a path that has involved transitioning from this discipline-based orientation to identities, and to organisational roles, primarily grounded in the SoTL. Appointed for a two-year period as 'Faculty Curriculum Scholars' as part of a university-wide refresh of the curriculum, the authors have engaged in a process of personal and professional transition, intended and unintended, that has spoken directly to issues of academic identity. As these roles draw to a close, and they prepare to return to their discipline-based positions, the authors reflect on the lessons that have been learned from this journey. In particular, the paper presents a model for understanding the tension between discipline-based and T&L-based orientations and identifies the professional and personal benefits and costs attached to choosing a pathway that leads away from a discipline focus and towards a more generic orientation to learning and teaching.

Item ID: 21592
Item Type: Conference Item (Abstract / Summary)
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Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2012 01:36
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130299 Curriculum and Pedagogy not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930299 Teaching and Instruction not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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