Informal interaction and professional learning: Considerations for higher education – Seminar: 15 October 2019

Conversations about teaching in higher education occur despite contexts which offer inconsistent support for teaching development – so how might conversations between colleagues enhance professional learning? Join us for our final presentation in the 2019 CRADLE Seminar Series to hear the University of Sydney’s Dr Kate Thomson explore the influence of informal conversations on academics’ professional learning in higher education.

When?2.00 pm to 3.00 pm, Tuesday 15 October 2019
Where?Deakin Downtown – Level 12, Tower 2, 727 Collins Street, Melbourne (Collins Square).
Online and on-campus options are also available
Catering?Afternoon tea will be provided
Cost?This is a free event
Register?Register here!

Photograph of Dr Kate ThomsonThis seminar highlights key findings from research into academics’ conversations about teaching and reflects on how to enhance informal interaction and professional learning in higher education. Conversations about teaching in higher education occur despite contexts which offer inconsistent support for teaching development. To examine academics’ experiences of conversations within their departmental contexts, thirty interviews were conducted with early and mid-career academics. Analysis revealed that academics’ conversations were useful in at least five ways: to support them to manage their teaching context; to improve their teaching and student learning; to reassure themselves about their teaching practice; to vent about teaching-related issues; and to transform their thinking and practice of teaching (Thomson & Trigwell, 2018).

The learning from conversations can complement and conflict with the learning from formal professional development initiatives (Thomson, 2015), and talking to colleagues represents a private and efficient strategy for time-poor academics who cannot be seen to seek assistance with their teaching. Further, academics’ engagement in conversations appears to be driven by a desire for camaraderie – which is likely in direct response to endeavouring to learn about teaching within contexts perceived as adverse. Exploring the roles of camaraderie, familiarity and proximity in influencing academics’ conversations provides insights into our understanding of professional learning in higher education. The seminar will conclude by considering the implications of these findings for engaging academics in informal learning, and possible avenues for future research.

Places for the seminar are filling fast, so register now!

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