Alison Shreeve

  • Drawing on practice: supporting part time tutors in becoming teachers.

    Alison Shreeve, University of the Arts London, UK

    Session 5b, Wednesday 09.30

    Research paper

    Theme addressed:

    • Faculty development methods and/or strategies

    Part time tutors in practice-based subject areas are seen as a valuable resource for student learning, being a vital link between current, relevant, work practices and the formal learning environment of higher education. Students appreciate the contribution these tutors make to their understanding of the world as a practitioner sees it. However, for the new tutor entering university there are a bewildering array of rules and procedures, which make the teaching of their practice and the transition to education a challenging process. This is evidenced by the need for the FDTL4 ADEPTT project, designed to support part time practitioners in becoming teachers through a series of support materials to be used by facilitators as staff development workshops and through independent learning.

    Research into the experience of part time tutors at art and design colleges suggests that viewing practice and the teaching of practice as an elision of two activity systems (Engeström 2001; Shreeve 2005) can suggest ways to ease the transition for the part time practitioner, enabling boundary crossing. Tutor initiation is then not just dependent on learning the discourse of higher education, although that might be the ultimate goal which will allow fluid movement between the two activities, or life worlds, we expect these tutors to inhabit.

    This paper looks at ways to support part time practitioners, who make up a large proportion of the teaching faculty, through the framework of activity theory. It suggests ways in which all members of the community of the university could encourage and induct tutors to maximise the learning opportunities for students who engage with them in developing a common understanding of practice.


    • The ADEPPT project available at Last accessed December 8th 2005
    • Engeström Y (2001). ‘Expansive Learning at Work: toward an activity theoretical Reconceptualization’ Journal of Education and Work 14(1): 133 -156.
    • Shreeve A (2005). Eliding Activity Systems: conceptualising the role of part time tutors in art and design. Manchester, Manchester University.