Beyond Teaching and Learning - Rethinking Academic Development in Relation to Quality Enhancement

  • Åse Nygren Blekinge Institute of Technology & Malmö university, Sweden
  • Jeanette Sjöberg Halmstad University, Sweden
Keywords: academic development, academic development hubs, Agency, Change, Higher education, Quality assurance, Quality enhancement


Higher education (HE) today is a diversified area which has grown expansively in response to a rapidly changing educational and political climate over the past decades. In this age of complexity, development and change are omnipresent and intrinsic parts of the university teacher’s practice, from the development of the teachers’ individual practice at micro-level to the collaborative development of scholarly practice at the meso-level of the department and to the strategic institutional approach at macro-level, which links to employment and promotion frameworks and the recognition of teaching quality. As requirements for pedagogical competence have been built into career structures and criteria for promotion, academic developers have become central to the implementation of these strategies. This development goes hand in hand with the shift in focus from quality assurance to quality enhancement, which has extended the range of professional activities for academic developers. The allowing of the universities to develop their own quality assurance systems, signals a heightened awareness of the importance of ownership and the possibility of influencing quality processes, which in turn relates to national governance strategies of teaching and learning. As the changing educational and political demands on higher education have deeply affected the professional activities of the academic developer and the academic teacher, this article addresses the changes and challenges faced. The aim is to discuss these implications particularly for academic development in this diversified context and to contribute with further knowledge and understanding of structural and organizational prerequisites for the advancement of teaching in higher education.


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