Professional learning for teaching at a research-intensive university : the need for a ‘care-full’ environment

Herman, N. ; Bitzer, E. ; Leibowitz, B. (2018)

CITATION: Herman, N., Bitzer, E. & Leibowitz, B. 2018. Professional learning for teaching at a research-intensive university : the need for a ‘care-full’ environment. South African Journal of Higher Education, 32(6):99-116, doi:10.20853/32-6-2647.

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The participation of academics in professional learning opportunities for teaching plays an important role in promoting the desired outcomes of higher education teaching and learning. If university teachers pursuing a career in academia however perceive the environment as non-appreciative and non-supportive, in other words, ‘care-less’ to such endeavours, they could become demoralised as a result of human and emotional responses. The purpose of the reported research was to explore the influence of their environment on the decision-making of academics to participate in professional learning opportunities at one research-intensive university. It shows what impact the care-less treatment of teachers may have on their decisions to learn to teach. Findings indicate that academics do not perceive the existing institutional environment as “care-full” (Milligan and Wiles 2010) towards teaching or university teachers. Carving out a teaching career in a care-less environment appears to have a negative influence on academics’ decision-making for professional learning. One implication of these findings is that university management should realise that a care-full environment to enhance professional learning for teaching, certainly at research-intensive institutions, is essential for such professional learning, for individual academics and subsequently for students and society, to prosper.

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