Torgny Roxa

  • The Breakthrough project - a large scale development project

    Torgny Roxa, Lund University

    Conceptual underpinnings

    The Breakthrough project at Lund Institute of Technology is a large scale pedagogical development initiative designed to transform the entire faculty (6000 students and about 900 teachers, including doctoral students who also are teaching) into a community of practice (Wenger 1999), where the development of teaching and learning is regarded as a joint enterprise by the teachers.

    The teachers will develop as scholars (Boyer 1990; Healey 2000; Kreber 2000), and as reflective practitioners (Schn 1983), striving for an improved understanding of, and competence to act in their roles as teachers.

    The strategy is derived from literature discussing conceptual change (Posner, Strike et al. 1982; Demastes, Good et al. 1995; Entwistle and Walker 2000; Ho 2000; McKenzie 2002).

    Teachers articulate their teaching experiences and are encouraged to reconcile inconsistencies within their thinking. Strategies for developed thinking and alternatives in teaching are available. Effort is used to maintain a sense of control from the teachers' point of view (Ellstrm 1996). They choose stories to tell, they control the reflection and they choose strategies. While the faculty transforms into a community of practice it will also achieve the overall objective for the Breakthrough project and for the institute: To afford a message that the institute strives systematically to improve the quality of its teaching.

    Activities

    The most important initiatives are:

    1. An extensive staff development program involving the department-heads.
    2. A reward (title and salary) for professional teachers
    3. A reward for departments promoting professionalism in teaching
    4. Several arenas for the sharing of intriguing teaching experiences (e.g. a peer reviewed campus conference)
    5. The introduction of a learning focused paradigm
    6. Several possibilities for the leadership to act as leaders
    7. A two-way system for evaluation of teaching (CEQ, Ramsden, and CATs, Angelo and Cross)
    8. Several pedagogical resource-persons are trained and used as consultative support

    Outcomes

    The project will be subjected to external evaluation during 2003. Therefore the outcomes so far can only be measured in terms of commitment and engagement.

    • The Dean leads and funds the project (300 000 per year) from the faculty's normal budget
    • All 20 department-heads take active part regularly
    • At least 25% of the senior teachers have participated in teacher training (app. 200 hours)
    • About 10% has showed active interest in the reward for professional teachers
    • The first campus conference on teaching and learning (May 27) draw 40 submitted abstracts, 28 were accepted, and 90 participants are registered.
    • All levels in the organisation actively use all available consultation time, with an emphasis for the programme boards and the Dean.
    • A shift in the teaching paradigm is showing within the curriculum development, e.g. more project work and more open-ended problems are used earlier in the programmes and more peer assessment is used in order to increase feedback on students' work. The project will be prolonged, still within the faculty's normal budget.