Academic Professionalism

The research project “Academic professionalism in teaching and learning in the 21st century” led by Helga Dorner (co-researcher Swapna Kumar) and funded by the CEU Research Support Scheme explores how academic professionalism is conceptualized and, eventually, transformed through programs in teaching and learning. In particular, this research focuses on CEU doctoral students and CEU graduates who completed the CEU Center for Teaching and Learning’s Certificate Program in Excellence in Teaching in Higher Education and thus inquires into their conceptualizations and potential transformations.

The broad policy relevance for this research project comes out of the recognition that although European policy makers have stressed the importance of excellence in teaching and learning at universities and have recognized the need for all universities to provide preparation for novice faculty in achieving new standards of pedagogical competence, the reality of this provision remains extremely unclear and varied. By now we have a body of policy solutions and some significant research about ‘program effectiveness’ coming from some of the university systems, but these are usually based on narrow notions of program outcomes. In other geographical areas, practice itself is lacking, programs exist sporadically or have only begun to be established. Investigators thus need to inquire into not only effectiveness of programs but also their underlying academic principles and their capacity to provide a meaningful formative context for learning and development of academic professionalism. We know very little about the context of successful programs, about the ‘theories of change’ they use in the program conception, which then translate into a specific logic of intervention and amount to specific effects. These effects, in this deeper understanding may be measured not so much as ‘learning outcomes’ but as ‘lived experiences’ of the participants. This is to say, we will conduct a study with a qualitative, mixed-method inquiry, using socio-cultural lenses and a clear theoretical-conceptual framework.