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A Study Of ‘Caring’ Academics And Their Work Within A UK University

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posted on 09.07.2010, 14:20 by Caroline Walker-Gleaves
This researcher investigated three academics perceived to be caring, in the naturalistic setting of their everyday work in a UK university. The three academics were selected using LeCompte & Preissle’s (1993) Reputational Case Selection methodology. Two purposes framed this investigation: 1. To gain an in-depth understanding of the educational and pedagogical beliefs and practices of higher education academics who are perceived to be caring and 2. To examine how identity is constructed through autobiography. Using a dual phenomenology and life-history methodology, data sources included a series of interviews, teaching metaphors, observations, participants’ personal writing, research notes and other salient material. Dialogue between the researcher and participants played a major part in ensuring the rigour of the study: throughout, participants were given the opportunity to critically assess their portrayals within the thesis. Results indicated that the participants differed in their views about being perceived as ‘caring’ and possessed a range of beliefs related to its place in academic work. In addition, there was variance in the cultural context of the academics’ work, revealing a difference in the conceptions of institutional prerogatives about ‘the value of caring’. The academics’ autobiographies shaped their values and ethics, and these played a significant role in how their pedagogic identities and practices were conceptualized. This empirical study assists in understanding academic identities at a time of profound change in higher education. It can also contribute to a currently under-theorized account of academic work that weaves values and pedagogic scholarship and examines its effects on students’ experiences. Implications are offered for future research involving the investigation of caring pedagogies in relation to students’ achievement, retention and the values and ethics that might develop as a result of caring teaching.



Wood, Phil B.

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University of Leicester

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