Jo McKenzie

  • Variation in ways of experiencing the dissemination of teaching and learning innovations and ways of experiencing teaching: similarities, differences and implications for improving learning

    Jo McKenzie, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

    Session 5f, Wednesday 09.30

    Research paper

    Theme addressed:

    • Implementing and managing change and innovation

    Just as ‘teaching is about making it possible for students to learn subject matter’ (Ramsden, 2002, p18), dissemination of teaching and learning innovations should be about making it possible for others to learn to adapt and implement innovations in their own contexts. This paper presents the findings from an analysis of ways of experiencing the dissemination of teaching and learning innovations, and explores what might be learned from comparing these with ways of experiencing teaching (eg Martin, Prosser, Trigwell, Ramsden and Benjamin, 2000; McKenzie, 2003).

    Teaching and dissemination have a number of parallels. Like teaching, dissemination can have a range of different intentions, such as awareness of, understanding about, and use of the innovation, which are associated with different strategies and typically result in different outcomes for learners (Gibbs, Holmes and Segal, 2002). In the case of dissemination, the learners are those who are intended to adopt or adapt the innovation, often university teachers and, like students, they may achieve intended and/or unintended outcomes.

    The ways of experiencing dissemination described in this paper were constituted from relevant parts of interviews undertaken as part of a broader project on the dissemination, adoption and adaptation of project innovations (McKenzie, Alexander, Harper and Anderson, 2005). The interviewees included project developers and adopters, academic developers, and staff from national and disciplinary agencies concerned with funding, supporting and disseminating projects aimed at improving teaching and learning.

    Five categories describing ways of experiencing dissemination were constituted phenomenographically using an analytic framework based on Marton and Booth’s (1997) ways of experiencing learning: the internally related aspects of what is disseminated and how it is disseminated, where the ‘how’ comprises the acts or activities and their related intentions. Dissemination was experienced as:

    1. distributing project products or information;
    2. telling others about the project
    3. others using the project outcomes
    4. spreading and embedding project impacts
    5. an ongoing two-way process aimed at bringing about change in the culture of teaching and learning.

    Like ways of experiencing teaching, these vary from focusing on one-way communication of taken-for granted information to two-way engaged interaction involving mutual constitution of understandings. However, category E in particular focuses more broadly on adopters’ contexts and participation in knowledge generation and the paper and discussion will speculate on the implications of parallels in teaching and learning.


    • Gibbs G, Holmes A, and Segal R (2002) Funding innovation and disseminating new teaching practices. Milton Keynes UK: NQEF National Co-ordination Team.
    • Martin E, Prosser M, Trigwell K, Ramsden P and Benjamin J (2000). What university teachers teach and how they teach it. Instructional Science, 28, 387-412.
    • Marton F and Booth S (1997) Learning and awareness. Mahwah NJ: Lawrence Ehrlbaum.
    • McKenzie J, Alexander S, Harper C and Anderson S (2005) Dissemination, adoption and adaptation of project innovations in higher education. Sydney: UTS Printing Services. Retrieved 27 Jan 2006 from