• Improving Student Learning Theory and Practice - 10 Years on

    Title: Teaching and Learning Regimes: implicit theories and recurrent practices in educational development.

    Author(s): Paul Trowler and Alison Cooper
    Institution: Lancaster University
    Session: Research paper  

    This paper uses the concept of teaching and learning regimes (TLRs) to help answer a set of questions about why some staff thrive on and benefit from educational development programmes for staff in universities while others do not, sometimes after a period of resistance and struggle.

    'TLR' is a shorthand term for a constellation of rules, assumptions, practices and relationships related to teaching and learning issues in higher education. They are usually developed and primarily located in academic departments. Their components include aspects of the following salient to teaching and learning, each of which we elaborate and illustrate in this paper: identities in interaction; power relations; codes of signification; rules of appropriateness; tacit assumptions and recurrent practices; discursive repertoires; implicit theories of learning and of teaching. The notion of a TLR is an ideal type in the Weberian sense: an analytical device to illuminate processes and structures which exist in more complex forms in reality.

    The TLR concept is rooted in social practice theory, itself derived from activity systems and communities of practice theory. A more general elaboration of this is available in Trowler's work (see references). This paper represents entirely new work, however.

    The argument presented here is that programme participants bring to programmes sets of assumptions and practices rooted in teaching and learning regimes (TLRs). Educational development programmes themselves instantiate TLRs which may be more, or less, compatible with those of individual participants. If there are incongruities between the two they need not be fatal if participants are able to, or are encouraged to, surface and reflect on previously tacit assumptions embedded in their TLRs. Similarly, there may not be a problem if participants are able to exercise discretion over the application of aspects of different regimes; applying them in different contexts as appropriate.

    The paper has the following structure: first, the loci and character of TLRs are explored. Their component parts are then illustrated with examples from data. The nature of the TLRs commonly instantiated in educational development programmes is elaborated. The consequences of incompatibilities between TLRs, including in human terms, are illustrated through a number of vignettes derived from our data. Proposals for enhancement of educational development programmes in the light of this account are provided.

    Data from the following sources are used to substantiate and interrogate the argument:

    * interviews with educational development programme participants
    * reflective accounts from educational development programme participants' portfolios
    * naturally-occurring sources in which TLRs are expressed
    * participant observation
    * secondary sources, including accounts from educational development programme leaders

    References Knight, P. and Trowler, P. (2001) Departmental Leadership in Higher Education: new directions for communities of practice. Buckingham: Open University Press/SRHE. (especially chapter 3).

    Trowler, P. and Knight, P. (2001) Exploring the implementation gap: theory and practices in change interventions. In P. Trowler (ed) Higher Education Policy and Institutional Change. Buckingham: Open University Press/SRHE.

    Trowler, P. and Turner, G. (2002) Exploring the Hermeneutic Foundations of University Life: Deaf academics in a hybrid community of practice. Higher Education, 43, 227-256.