Leadership from within: Empowering curriculum transformation amongst higher education teaching staff

Narelle Patton, Katelin Sutton

    Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review


    This paper is constructed on the premise that higher education teaching practice is best conceived, not just as a set of standards but as a dynamic and inherently human practice that is distributed amongst all members of teaching practice communities and transformed through individual and collective practices over time. The findings of a phenomenological study that aimed to develop deeper and richer understandings of how practice-based education learning and teaching strategies are implemented in a contemporary university context are reported. Eight academics representing a range of disciplines including health, environmental science, education and creative arts were recruited to the study. Data was collected via semi-structured and photo-elicitation interviews and all data generated including researchers’ observations, field notes and interview transcripts were coded within a phenomenological tradition including holistic, selective and detailed readings of and reflections on the text (Van Manen, 2014). This study revealed the challenging, rewarding, creative and inherently human nature of university teaching. Using the concept of Uplifting Leadership (Hargreaves, Boyle & Harris, 2014) and the study findings, conditions that need to be cultivated to best empower ongoing innovation and curriculum transformation amongst university teachers were identified. Innovative and leading teaching practices are best undertaken in an educational ecosystem where the embodied and emotional aspects of teaching are honoured; a spirit of co-operation and partnership is privileged; teachers learn to practice by actively doing and own responsibility for innovation; passion for teaching is reignited alongside creativity and above all teachers’ work is sustainable, rewarding and lifegiving.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationResearch and Development in Higher Education: Curriculum Transformation Volume 40
    Subtitle of host publicationRefereed papers from the 40th HERDSA Annual International Conference
    EditorsRuth Walker, Simon Bedford
    Place of PublicationSydney, NSW
    PublisherHigher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia
    Number of pages10
    ISBN (Electronic)9780994554666
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    Event40th HERDSA Annual International Conference - International Convention Centre, Sydney, Australia
    Duration: 27 Jun 201730 Jun 2017
    http://herdsa2017.org/ (Conference website )
    http://www.herdsa.org.au/research-and-development-higher-education-vol-40 (Conference proceedings)


    Conference40th HERDSA Annual International Conference
    Abbreviated titleCurriculum Transformation
    OtherOn behalf of the conference planning committee, we invite you to join us for the 40th annual conference of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) to be held 28-30 June 2017 (with pre-conference workshops on 27 June) at the ICC (International Convention Centre), Darling Harbour, Sydney.

    The theme for the conference is Curriculum Transformation. Effective curriculum transformation is seen to optimise the curriculum as a framework for student learning and experience rather than as simply an organising framework for disciplinary knowledge. It puts quality at the centre of this process and ensures support for staff in curriculum development and innovative teaching practice.
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