Call for new Executive Editors!

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We are looking to recruit two new Executive Editors to join our Executive Editorial Team in December 2020, for a period of five years. New editors will replace Professor Penny Jane Burke (University of Newcastle, Australia) and Professor Suellen Shay (University of Cape Town, South Africa), who will both be leaving the journal at that point in time after making outstanding contributions.

The role of Executive Editor

The journal is directed by an Executive Editorial team, which is presently constituted by the Editor and six Executive Editors. The operation of the journal is supported by a dedicated part-time administrator who directly works to the Editor, as well as by the regular operations of the publishers. Each Executive Editor is responsible for the following duties:

    • Seeing through a case-load of articles that have been submitted to the journal, from initial decision on the suitability of papers submitted to the journal for inclusion in the peer review process, until the final decision on the inclusion of the article within the journal.
    • Joining the meetings of the Executive Editorial team, either remotely or in person. (The pattern of meetings in the team is currently a meeting in July, a two-day annual meeting in early-mid December (residential, with possibility of remote attendance), and two exclusively virtual meetings. The meetings that occur with at least some of the team present in person are held in the UK, where the publishers, Taylor & Francis, are based. The annual residential particularly offers an occasion for the team to develop a collegial and critical approach to the running of the journal.
    • Co-editing a special issue with a guest editor around once every two or three years (in place of some regular decision editing for the relevant period). The journal now looks to include two Special Issues in its copy each year.
    • Taking forward a particular aspect of the overall profile or operation of the journal as part of the executive team (e.g. liaising with the Editorial Board, curating the blog, and so on).

The application process

Applications are welcomed from candidates based in any location across the world. An honorarium (currently £1,500) is paid to each Executive Editor (e.g. to support conference attendance, or other relevant academic activity or expenses). Nominations for these posts are welcome, although please note that nominations should be made in sufficient time in advance of the deadline indicated below for an approach to be made.

Applicants are welcome to contact any of the current Executive Editorial team to find out more about the new positions, although applicants should note that the application process is being led by Dr Peter Kahn (Editor) and Professor Suellen Shay (Executive Editor). The contact details for the Executive Editorial team are as follows:

    • Editor: Peter Kahn (kahn@liv.ac.uk)
    • Executive Editors: Penny Jane Burke (pennyjane.burke@newcastle.edu.au); Neil Harrison (neil.harrison@education.ox.ac.uk); Aneta Hayes (a.m.hayes@keele.ac.uk); Kathy Luckett (kathy.luckett@uct.ac.za); Suellen Shay (suellen.shay@uct.ac.za); Karen Smith (k.smith27@herts.ac.uk).

Applicants should send the following information by email to the journal’s administrator, Alison Stanton (tihejournal@gmail.com), by Thursday 17th September 2020:

    • A copy of your current academic CV, which should include evidence of a track record that is appropriate to editorial work on a major international journal (including a full statement of relevant academic publications).
    • A covering letter that outlines the reasons for your interest in the role, including a statement outlining specific ideas for how the journal might develop (e.g. in relation to strengthening its profile as a journal for criticaleducational studies, stimulating ongoing debate within and beyond the journal, maintaining and enhancing the quality of published articles, and so on.) We would note that the critical focus of the journal constitutes a key element of its contribution to research and practice.

Decisions on appointments will be made by the current Executive Editorial Team for the journal (subject to the endorsement of the publishers). It is expected that decisions on appointments will be made in October 2020.

About the journal

Teaching in higher education has become an internationally recognised field, which is more than ever open to multiple forms of contestation. However, the intellectual challenge which teaching presents has been inadequately acknowledged and theorised in higher education. The journal Teaching in Higher Education addresses this gap by publishing scholarly work that critically examines and interrogates the values and presuppositions underpinning teaching, introduces theoretical perspectives and insights drawn from different disciplinary and methodological frameworks, and considers how teaching and research can be brought into a closer relationship. It welcomes contributions that aim to develop sustained reflection, investigation and critique, and that critically identify new agendas for research.

The journal is currently ranked 77/263 in the field of Education & Educational Research, with the 2019 Impact Factor at 2.136 (Clarivate, 2019 Journal Citation Reports). It is a leading international peer reviewed journal in the sub-field of higher education. The journal benefits greatly from the contributions of its international editorial board, with members from around 18 countries globally.

Excellent teaching in higher education: time to challenge the performance model and dare to be vulnerable!

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Writing this blog post in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic causes each one of us to reflect on our past lives and what the future will bring. What will university teaching look like in the months and years to come? Paradoxically, the one thing we can be certain about is the uncertainty that we all face in higher education. In a way, this resonates with our new article in Teaching in Higher Education in which we explore the concept of vulnerability as a pedagogy of choice. Pedagogic vulnerability is a complex concept, liable to diverse interpretations and definitions which is what we explore in some depth.

Before we wrote our article we reflected on our long collaboration which started in 2010 and has seen us constantly discuss an alternative to the performance measures of teaching excellence that we were unhappy with. Our fundamental belief was that we should show our students that we are vulnerable, not invincible. At that time such an approach seemed quite risky. It still does. As a matter of fact, in the current higher education climate it is a high stakes activity to step outside the ‘performance model’ and dare to show authenticity as a fallible human being in the professional role of university teacher.

Our argument rests on the concept that vulnerability should be considered as one of the defining characteristics of a pedagogical strategy for teaching excellence. Pedagogic vulnerability, we suggest, reinforces the values of higher education that go beyond the metrics and the employability market, and seeks to engage students in deep transformative learning processes for a future that is uncertain and unknowable. As Barnett (2012, p.75) says:

‘Being for uncertainty does not especially know much about the world nor have at its disposal a raft of skills to deploy in and on the world. Being-for-uncertainty stands in certain kinds of relationship to the world. It is disposed in certain kinds of way. It is characterised therefore, by certain kinds of disposition. Among such dispositions are carefulness, humility, criticality, receptiveness, resilience, courage and stillness’.

In an attempt to understand more clearly the affordances that being vulnerable as a teacher has for enhancing student learning, we examined different conceptions of vulnerability in the literature. The daring to be vulnerable approach to teaching we present in our article offers an alternative perspective to the commonly perceived deficit model that identifies ‘vulnerability’ of university teachers as academic frailty (Kinchin et al., 2016). We have illustrated our approach by offering critical and reflective accounts of our lived experience of feeling and being vulnerable. In so doing we have allowed ourselves to be vulnerable to our readers.

We conclude our article by identifying five underpinning principles of advancing pedagogic vulnerability in university teaching that offer an approach to thinking differently about teaching in higher education and what teaching excellence can mean outside performance measures:

  1. Learning to be courageous in trying new teaching methods
  2. Learning to trust students and colleagues and displaying our own being as trustworthy to others
  3. Learning to be authentic in our teaching
  4. Learning to be more aware of ourselves and of others
  5. Learning to be reflective rather than reactive

These five principles are offered as a springboard for rethinking what it means to be an excellent teacher in our current uncertain times. We share them in the hope that colleagues will challenge, adapt and develop them to suit and enhance their own teaching practices and their students’ learning for an unknown future.

Daniela Mangione (Anglia Ruskin University) and Lin Norton (Liverpool Hope University)

We are all mentoring each other through the year: creating and sustaining spaces of teaching/mentoring during COVID

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COVID-19 hit during the process of revising my new article in Teaching in Higher Education. Although, being China-based, I found myself part of what were among the first universities to go online (of the ones that weren’t already), that early experience is now unremarkable as the rest of the world was forced to quickly ‘catch up’. Now, many of us are already being hurled into a second, uncertain semester together. My geographic displacement and serious health challenges have only made me more acutely aware of the ways in which we are all mentoring each other through this year in the face of its myriad challenges, in both new and not-so-new ways.

Works created and published so far in 2020, like Zadie Smith’s Intimations: Six Essays and the poetry collection, Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic (edited by Alice Quinn), have mentored me in their own ways, influencing my own participation in collective writing projects about what COVID means for our own fields, for example, ‘Reimagining the new pedagogical possibilities for universities post-Covid-19’.  Other books that happened to come out during COVID, like Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman’s Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close, have given me fresh and accessible language as well as a sense of legitimacy to continue to explore expansive relationships, including teaching/mentoring, with a simultaneous seriousness and lightness that feels necessary to be able to continue on in this year. In search of grounded creativity – or creative grounding – in this time of great uncertainty, I am inspired to draw on a wide range of emerging work across genres that both challenges me in this moment and also echoes my long-term commitments.

Rooted in the commitment to long-term teaching/mentoring in both formal and non-formal spaces as a project of social justice, my article’s themes can be understood as both constant and simultaneously adaptable to this moment. I think of all of us who have experienced job precarities and inequities, in places that had no formal institutional structures for teaching/mentoring before COVID, much less now, or in institutions that do have formal structures but who may not be served by them. Framings of timescapes and post-qualitative work that I explore in the article offer possibilities to both experiment and to also use what we already have (or have left) as we consider what teaching/mentoring looks like for us right now and how it fits into our daily lives. These re/negotiations must take shape very carefully given the collective and personal crises in which many of us find ourselves, our students, our families, and our communities, all broadly defined.

During what is still an ongoing quarantine, Jonathan, whose teaching/mentoring to me over two decades I explore in the article, continues to re/shape his engagement with, mentoring of, and mentoring by such groups as parents, students, teachers, social service providers, and community organizers. While two years may pass before we see each other again, we have remained committed to regular conversations, including about expansive teaching/mentoring as it is explored in my article.


Jonathan,
Your work is both urgent and reflective of your long-term commitment to a wide range of social justice work, from very local to global. You always remain open to being mentored in these spaces and you also remain open to taking on new mentoring roles; because of these experiences, your pedagogies are deeply rooted yet constantly evolving. Considering all of the commitments that keep you going in this moment, I wanted to ask you, how (if at all) do any of the themes here or in the article resonate with your current work?


Frankly I find the concept of mentoring through timescapes to be a revelation. I wish I had been aware of timescapes as a signifier when an inmate in an adult literacy class I taught prior to COVID-19 asked me how on earth a retired professor ended up as a volunteer at the local jail (despite my evasiveness they figured out my profession pretty quickly). My response was that it felt to me that everything I had learned and experienced, both through academic training and a few of life’s brutally hard knocks, kind of sent me there. That roundabout response seems pretty close to the definition of timescapes, as I understand it, and I guess I was for them a kind of mentor.

Now that the pandemic has made that praxis at the jail impossible, timescape has shifted me considerably into a different kind of mentoring. I now work very part-time as a family support partner at a state agency that serves parents and/or guardians of youth with a psychiatric disability. These are families in rural Virginia (USA) who have little in the way of capital, financial or social, and who are at risk of being overwhelmed and broken by dysfunctional social systems. As a general rule I avoid sharing my academic pedigree with my families; if asked, I say that I am a retired teacher. People won’t be put off so easily, however; they want a story. After several months of weekly encounters – mostly by phone but sometimes in person wearing masks, a grandmother of one of my families asked what my previous career had been. I said I been a teacher in different schools for forty years, but she wanted to know where and I confessed that I had been a professor at William and Mary. “I knew it!” she replied. I asked her how she had come to suspect my trade and she said, “because you are a wise old owl.”

If there is indeed wisdom that I bring to this new praxis, it is my personal discovery that in these shifting timescapes the ability to listen deeply, maybe owl-like, is a pedagogical tool that is meaningful. I believe this is as true to work with struggling, desperate parents in rural Virginia as it was to the families and teachers in Barrio Camilo Ortega where Lauren and I taught and read aloud the poetry of Ernesto Cardenal and Claribel Alegría. What has made that personal discovery possible, however, is my ongoing and mutual teaching/mentoring relationship with Lauren, a space where we can speak our experiences and so learn to understand them.

Hugs, Jonathan

Lauren Ila Misiaszek (Beijing Normal University) and Jonathan Arries

Graduate employability and the career thinking of university STEMM students

There is much discussion about employability in higher education. Surprisingly, the student perspective is often missing. There is also limited understanding of why some students are better than others are at developing their employability.

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In our new article in Teaching in Higher Education, we asked 2,475 commencing university students in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine/health (STEMM) to share their thinking about self, career and employability. We were interested in how a student’s study path and vision of possible selves or a ‘meaningful’ life and work can foster careership or working life orientation. We explored the  theme of time by applying Adam’s (1990, 2004) conceptualisation of ‘timescapes’, which can frame explorations of how conformity and institutional expectations of time might be a limiting or ‘other’ influence on student outcomes.

In our study, students were asked: How long do you think you will work in your major (discipline), once you graduate? A total of 21,239 words were recorded in the students’ free text responses. We manually coded the responses to extract the number of years and/or the key theme of each response.

We considered whether the act of responding to questions about future plans might bring to light possible selves or more open futures. We posited that the temporal dimension might shift students’ thinking from the present and towards future-oriented or infinite thinking.  Theories of career decision are often underpinned by an assumption of predictability. This was not seen in the responses; rather, students were aware of potential challenges and the influence of changing personal circumstances.

Many of the students had entered university immediately or soon after completing high school, and the routines on which their career thinking might be challenged and expanded were severely limited. Although students’ socially constructed experiences had made visible their interest and passion for their discipline, some students masked study choice discomfort or career concerns with humour and others simply wrote responses such as “I don’t know”.

The findings highlighted students’ anticipated career engagement within their disciplines and the rationale for these projections. Almost half the students intended to work within their discipline for their whole careers. Students who were negative about their graduate prospects often referred to dominant discourses from which they had learned that careers are often unstable. They also mentioned that new technologies might limit their opportunities and that graduate employment is fiercely competitive.

Several points of interest emerged from the study. First, students’ interest and passion for their discipline aligned with a desire to create social change through their work. This indicates the potential to develop more targeted opportunity awareness within STEMM programs. One practical strategy would be to develop students’ proficiency in conducting career information searches, leading to a greater understanding of the potential career pathways.

Second, the findings highlight the need to address the impact of narratives about career uncertainty. In practical terms, teachers might help students to create meaning from the career-related messages that abound in public discourse. This requires explicit career conversations within the core curriculum, supported by careers practitioners. With STEMM a priority for governments in multiple countries, teachers might also encourage students to explore within and beyond these acronyms and to consider more nuanced careers information about pathways relating to their specific specialisation.

Given that education and work trajectories have changed considerably over time, students’ thinking is impacted by both contemporary experiences and by the historical and locational contexts that have socialised them. As such, students’ socially constructed career previews – often heavily influenced by older, significant others and other primary socialisers – are likely to be out of sync with the nature of contemporary work: for example, outmoded assumptions of gendered roles within the workplace or changes to behavioural expectations between colleagues and to those with power and authority. It is crucial, therefore, that university recruitment, retention and career development initiatives are intersectional and inclusive of the diverse lived experience on which students’ conceptions of past and future are constructed.

Dawn Bennett (Curtin University), Elizabeth Knight (Victoria University) and Kenton Bell (Univeristy of Wollongong)

 

Why, without racial reconciliation, no lives will ever matter in the classroom

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I wrote my new article in Teaching in Higher Education before the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the protest movement that has followed. The global reach of the protest movement and the fact that even corporations such as McDonalds now embrace Black Lives Matter would have been unthinkable at the beginning of 2020.

At my university the administration issued a bold-sounding statement of its support for the movement, even repeating the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’. Yet one administrator affixing his name to the document participated in the university’s attempt to force me, in 2015, to revise my syllabus for a multicultural literature course, simply because right-wing media had objected to my phrase “deferring to the experiences of people of color”, and the university would rather satisfy the right-wingers than teachers and students of color.

Narrative scholars have studied differing temporalities for decades, and imaginative physics considers the idea of alternative and multiple temporalities. Such differences already exist in the classroom, when students and faculty come together from different racial backgrounds. Yet ‘school’ – by which I mean preschool through advanced education – operates on the single, dominant temporality of inherited white standards. The structure of higher education renders impossible the accommodation of the temporalities of people of color. While this does not necessarily mean that students and faculty of color will fail in universities, it does mean that they suffer a serious cultural and philosophical disadvantage.

My paper proposes to examine that disadvantage and to imagine a classroom in which students and faculty come together to negotiate a reconciliation of differing temporalities. While no reconciliation can satisfy everyone alike, as I hope to show in the scenarios I propose, still a challenge to the very notion of common standards might at least move everyone closer. Whites are a minority in the global population, and even in the United States they will become a minority in less than a quarter-century, and so ‘colored people’s time’ must be accommodated if our universities hope to serve people of color.

John Streamas (Washington State University)

Student perspectives on co-creating timescapes in interdisciplinary projects

“It was nice to have a focus on getting to know each other, where we were allowed to laugh and talk, rather than a focus on the end result.”
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This is a quote from a student in an interdisciplinary group project course. This student explained to me that being allowed to laugh and talk was something that set this course apart from other courses where the focus often is on fulfilling all requirements and getting things done – that she normally does not have time to laugh and talk. It made me think why being allowed and having time to laugh and talk is perceived as a significant part of a course and what it means for learning experiences in higher education.

To explore the connection between time and learning experiences in higher education in more detail, I turned to the concept of ‘timescapes’ in my new article in Teaching in Higher Education. Timescapes offer an interesting conceptual approach that acknowledges the spatial and temporal features of experiences and social interactions by seeing time as multidimensional and taking time frame, temporality, timing, tempo, duration, sequence, and temporal modalities into consideration as deeply interconnected elements. Even though timescapes play such a pivotal role in students’ learning experiences, they have received little attention in higher education research. In particular, there is a need to consider timescapes in relation to pedagogical practices and to ask ourselves what pedagogical approaches can help students and educators to collaboratively reconsider and shape timescapes?

This inspired me to explore how students experience and reflect on timescapes, take a closer look at pedagogical approaches that provide opportunities for co-creating a course’s timescape amongst students and between students and teachers, and in which ways this co-creation can help to develop a counter narrative within the current neoliberal education landscape.

I explore these questions by drawing on individual reflective diaries, group reflections, and perspective dialogs from the context of the interdisciplinary group project course, ‘Environments for learning in higher education’. This course aims to create a space that allows the students and the teacher to express, explore, and negotiate their different perspectives on time and how they shape their learning experiences by building on ideas of dialog and liberation in higher education, contemplative education, as well as student partnership and the concept of ‘Student as Producer’.

Explicit discussions of assumptions, concepts, and terms within the group are key elements that provide opportunities for students to experience how their frames of reference influence their approaches, to see other students’ perspectives, and to question their own understanding of concepts and terminology. As Taylor (2017, p 235) points out: ‘What makes higher education spaces significant is that […] they still perhaps offer greater openness for the emergence of new ethical subjectivities, and greater spontaneity for co-constructing teaching and learning relationally through joint action’.

It is of utmost importance that educators together with students use the possibilities in higher education spaces to counteract neoliberal, domesticating, and technocratic threats to meaningful partnership. Students and educators need to co-create spaces that allow the development of alternative timescapes through dialog, challenge traditional roles and predictable paths of education, and re-establish principles and values of authenticity, reciprocity, being more, hope and responsibility in higher education.

Patric Wallin (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

Revisiting teaching excellence: posthuman possibilities

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In our new article in Teaching in Higher Education we return to the contested and contentious concept of teaching excellence. We suggest that a posthuman lens can offer openings for us to think differently about this dominant (and unpopular) higher education discourse. And we consider how we might move away from notions of excellence as a performative, measurable, concept towards a more affirmative, values-based, ethical approach.

This is quite a bold undertaking. Our ambitious aim was conceived after a discussion between the authors regarding the original article that inspired it: Alan Skelton’s ‘A “teaching excellence” for the times we live in’. Skelton’s original article was published in Teaching in Higher Education over ten years ago. We reflected on the significance of Skelton’s personal view of a values-based conception of teaching excellence, where Skelton argues that teaching excellence is about developing a personal philosophy of teaching, that it is a moral category, and that it involves the struggle to live out educational values in practice. However, we also considered how the constant change, risk and fluidity of higher education meant that it might be high time to revisit this conception of teaching via the lens of understanding the uncertain and disruptive times we live in today.

Of course, teaching excellence is still a pervasive concept – ubiquitous in policy documents and university mission statements and yet it has been widely critiqued, perceived as a short hand for neoliberal and damaging notions of accountability and marketisation. Thinking about the loaded and limiting hegemony of excellence, we also wanted to explore whether the concept was still relevant for our work as teachers in a contemporary higher education context. Additionally, we felt that the recent disruption to all of our lives as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic might also offer an interesting frame to revisit what it means to teach within contemporary higher education as universities rush to adapt their teaching provision to a changed environment, often referred to as ‘the new normal’.

At the same time, we discussed how posthuman concepts might offer an exciting new direction to re-theorise both the notions of teaching excellence and the teaching and learning landscape. We were interested in exploring whether there might be room for a more expansive perspective of teaching excellence, one which unsettles narratives of human exceptionalism and which surfaces the relationality and fluidity of learning and teaching. Posthuman theory is rich in new concepts for thinking and doing higher education research and practice, and yet it is still exists in the margins of higher education and is not commonly adopted as a theoretical frame. Here, we play with how teaching excellence might be usefully re-imagined using posthuman theories – theories that offer us entirely new words and resources for thinking about learning and teaching. For example, using the lens of Rosi Braidotti’s frame of affirmative ethics, Karen Barad’s notion of intra-action, and Deleuze and Guattari’s concepts of the rhizome and becoming.

Ultimately, we suggest that both the broader notion of teaching excellence and Skelton’s own conception are still generative today. However, we contend that there is a need for both a greater understanding of the fluidity of teaching development, as well as of the teacher’s entanglement with the wider material learning environment. We consider a collaborative, relational, ethical approach, that recognises the role of the teacher as part of a wider whole and that prioritises the joyful and the affirmative within higher education. We hope that our article will continue the conversation initiated by Skelton about the utility of teaching excellence in higher education, and about the need to look beyond the limits of neoliberal discourses, and we advocate finding space for practising collaborative, affirmative and non-competitive ways of thinking and acting.

We realise that adopting a posthuman lens will offer a challenge to many readers who may not be familiar with this literature. But we offer this deliberately, to test lines of thought that may have become habitual over the years and to re-assess terms that have become blunt in their overuse. If the notion of teaching excellence is to have any impact on practice, it must remain fresh and thought-provoking. Our observations suggest that the term has become more of a sedative than a stimulus, and we hope that our re-imagining of teaching excellence in this article will provoke debate and critique and help to keep discussions about the quality of teaching firmly at the forefront of the higher education discourse.

Karen Gravett and Ian Kinchin (University of Surrey)

Why university teachers need pedagogical rhetorical competence

“The eye — it cannot choose but see;
we cannot bid the ear be still;
our bodies feel, where’er they be,
against or with our will.”
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

John Dewey cites this poem in his classic essay ‘How we think‘ in his attempt to understand our will to learn. The point is that we as humans are doomed to interpret and value what we see, hear and feel in the encounter with others. The lecture room is no exception. As university teachers, we must use this fundamental condition as a professional pedagogical asset. If not, there is a risk that students value what we say in a way that hinders their desire to learn and to be influenced by our subject knowledge.

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Communication is at the heart of education and learning. It is important to know how our knowledge is communicated to students in a trusting relationship, and teachers must be able to build a learning environment. This condition meets the wise Greek classical question as educational scholars still discuss: how is learning possible? For either we know already what we are after, and then we do not learn or inquire; or we do not know, for we do not know what to look for. One answer to this pedagogical paradox is to acknowledge our dependence of others and our desire to be a part of the teachers’ competence. We as humans want to be a part of the intellectual communities of others to discover what we still not know, but is not indifferent whose community we are considering. We choose whom we trust and have confidence in.

This means that the basic human conditions needed for listening and learning in an interaction with others, is the establishment of a trusting relationship, involving such as confidence and a desire to learn. The will to listen and participate in the teacher’s knowledge is taken as a beginning for the students’ interest in studying and learning more.

Consider following authentic example from a class in social sciences:

After a while during the lecture, the teacher asks: – Can anyone name a famous person who can be associated with Protestantism? Christian, who is a committed and knowledgeable student, immediately thinks of Martin Luther. However, he feels that the name is too obvious, and that the teacher probably is looking for other names. He thinks further, and after a while he says – Martin Luther King. The teacher looks at him, ignores the answer and turns away his eyes. He continues to talk as if Christian never said anything. It becomes obvious to the course group that Christian’s proposal was incorrect. But on what grounds did not emerge. Christian feels stupid and badly affected by the teacher’s nonchalant attitude. He, who was accustomed to being active in lessons, never expressed himself any more during the course. More than that, the rest of the group also became silent. The course group lost trust for the teacher.

What this situation illustrates is how the pedagogical interaction as educational support is lost through the absence of confidence and the sense of trust. The students’ desire to participate in the teacher’s subject knowledge and to learn more is not accomplished. It is obvious that the teacher did not use the students’ desire to be a part of the teacher’s subject knowledge as an asset. Probably, because he lacks competence in how to communicate to support a pedagogical interaction. In other words, he would have needed education in the science of pedagogical rhetoric.

However, university teachers in general receive no education in pedagogical rhetoric. A possible reason is that the predominant educational theories have not developed a methodology and analytical tools for how to research the support and actual learning in the pedagogical interaction between teachers and students. But what students see, hear and feel make teachers appear as more or less credible, the subject as more or less interesting, and the learning environment as more or less secure.

One way to get a clearer picture of these qualities is to explore the pedagogical meaning of the human, moral and political conditions in pedagogical interaction.  This is what we do in our new article in Teaching in Higher Education.

Eva Bjerkholt, Trine Ørbæk and Tina Kindeberg (University of South-Eastern Norway)

 

Interfaculty collaboration for improving international mobility experiences: sustaining a dialogue across difference

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Through these COVID times, there is an growing recognition of the role that communities of practice can play in enabling us to create new ways of working collaboratively and maintaining a sense of belonging. While our new article in Teaching in Higher Education belongs to a pre-COVID time, it was centred on a diverse group of academics and professional staff as they came to know and trust each other through working for a common cause. This endeavour was not only for fostering personal and professional relationships or a sense of belonging, but to ensure the meaningful continuation of our core work: knowledge generation.

Key to this meaning making was engagement in a retreat process that required each individual to deeply reflect on their learning as part of this ‘community’ through writing. The value of the retreat process was that it slowed our lives down and provided individuals with time to think.

While retreats are often associated with longer-periods of intense time away, meaningful reflection can be achieved in much shorter time frames. Thoughts taken out of the mind and onto paper – deposited over a few hours or even a few minutes – can offer a mechanism for insight and learning, perhaps even restoration and healing.

These days, our busy schedules and routines urge us to reach our destination quickly and start our next task even quicker. As education practitioners we know fully the value of reflective practices in learning for our students, and yet, engaging in structured or regular practice of emotional or cognitive reflection for professional teams and groups seems less common.

On a recent trip to the US, one of our authors met with US colleagues who regularly began meetings with 5-10 minutes of reflective writing. Sometimes the reflection looked ahead, anticipating the agenda from each writer’s perspective. Sometimes, it looked back on an experience that preceded and perhaps prompted the meeting.

Each person wrote to engage in a critical dialogue with self, often exploring an issue from the agenda. They were also reaching out in a respectful dialogue with others in the meeting, knowing that everyone would soon have to share their writing and respond to questions about it. Indeed, this is what we did in the writing retreat that produced data for our article.

As researchers, we all now strongly believe in this methodology. We appreciate the combination of spoken and written dialogue, the way it brings together colleagues from often disparate backgrounds, asking them to reveal something of themselves in a way that invites engagement rather than judgement. Such is the value of writing in dialogue like this: it can focus or facilitate even the most challenging conversations.

Surprising elements emerge from this experience, to sit with the unknown by trusting in the process and being open to dialogue and the value of qualitative feedback. There is much to be gained for teams that can make the time, not least the cultivation of effective dialogue that can bridge differences and seed new possibilities.

Angela Fitzgerald (University of Southern Queensland), Grahma Parr, Judy Williams, Rachel Wellam, Bethany Howard, Stavroula Zandes and Basia Diug (all Monash University)

Special Issue: “The timescapes of teaching in higher education”

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Despite the centrality of time in framing and structuring teaching in higher education, there has been limited consideration given to its conceptualisation. This special issue explores how time shapes our pedagogical imaginations, practices, experiences and identities, including the ways we understand and anticipate change. Engaging Barbara Adam’s generative concept of timescapes enables critical attention to how time is entwined with space. Timescapes are deeply relational, contextual and experiential, forming overarching narratives of higher education, its purpose and its future.

This special issue was conceived of and developed before the advent of COVID-19.  Yet, in writing our editorial in the middle of this significant rupture in time, we noted how COVID-19 has brought to the fore existing inequities in how time is experienced everyday by people living on the margins. This illuminated further that the dearth of research on questions of time in higher education tends to conceal assumptions at play that perpetuate unequal spatio-temporal structures, practices, embodiments and investments. The special issue aims to provoke readers to engage in processes of re/imagining the timescapes of teaching in higher education as a process of trans/forming pedagogical practice and experience. A key question is: how might the contextual, spatial and pedagogical contours of time and the dynamic relations of power shape the meanings and discourses that position us differently in and through higher education timescapes?

The papers critically consider this question and engage processes of re/imagining. Molly Dollinger examines the “projectification” of the university in which time is limited, measurable and reduced to numerical values. Drawing on an imagined set of alternative practices, she opens up the possibilities of emergent counter-projectification practices to imagine a day without projectification. Genevieve Liveley and Alex Wardrop interrogate the notion that the future might be imagined simply as a minimal departure from the present, advocating for “rigourous imagining” as a methodological framework for interrogating the ways we make sense of the present in relation to the fictional work of future thinking.

Matt Bunn and Anna Bennett take up the critique of future thinking by examining the relentless preoccupation neoliberal universities have with the future. They demonstrate how this future-focus and the chaotic pace of future transformation recasts the present as precarious and uncertain, compelling both academics and students to continuously grapple  with change. John Streamas connects us to being in time rather than being on time by incorporating alternative temporalities to reshape ways of knowing and being into higher education. His provocative use of the language of war points to the need for close attention to the politics of race in the profound institutional cultures that privilege particular temporal ontologies and exclude those associated with “coloured people’s time”.   Frances Kelly reimagines timescapes through doing research differently and deliberately shifting temporal relationalities in that process, thus generating other ways of constructing, knowing and making sense of past/present/future.

Agnes Bosanquet, Lilia Mantai and Vanessa Fredericks explore the ways in which emerging academics experience scheduled, timeless, contracted, personal and deferred time, arguing that the most significant affect caused by this endlessly deferred sense of time is anxiety, which has the political effect of forming self-disciplining subjects. The complex intertwining of past, present and future time in relation to career lifespans and stages of academic careers are critically examined themes across the special issue. Dawn Bennett, Elizabeth Knight and Kenton Bell use social cognitive career theory to establish the open-ended nature of hoped for future career timespans that many students hold – “for as long as I can” or “for as long as I enjoy it”.

It is through pedagogical practices that teachers and students might collectively interrogate hegemonic and limiting timescapes, and the effects of these on the unequal re/positioning of different students, that the possibilities for re/imagining become available. Patric Wallin builds on critical pedagogical concepts to create opportunities for students to produce knowledge via their own research projects to enable more ethically-oriented and reflexive forms of research praxis disrupting otherwise linearised and reductive higher education pedagogical practices.

We present this special issue in order to generate pedagogical re/imagining. In this spirit, we aim for this special issue to open up conversation and debate rather than a closing down of stable “findings” and certainties about what and how we “know” about the past/present/future of teaching in higher education. Through such approaches, the possibilities for imagining higher education differently, and as more inclusive and equitable, become available in ways that otherwise have been closed down by hegemonic logics.

Penny Jane Burke (University of Newcastle, Australia) and Catherine Manathunga (University of the Sunshine Coast)