Appreciative Development Research to Support the Teaching Culture of the Academic Staff at University
Keywords:professional development of university teachers, learning culture, institutional learning, cooperation networks, development research
The aim of the article is to present the principles of supporting the professional development of the academic staff at Tallinn University and to analyze how the implementation of these principles has worked in practice, as of 2021. We based our analysis on the theoretical view that the professional development of the academic staff at the university is supported in professional communities, because collaborative learning, mainly professional networks and learning communities provide important support in adapting to, understanding and embracing educational changes. This enables the academic staff to take greater responsibility for the development of education both in their organization and in society at large, while changing relationships at the university into more trusting and supportive ones. The need for the study stemmed from the central idea of improving teaching competencies formulated in the development plan of Tallinn University. As a result of the development research, we created a model for supporting the professional development of the academic staff. As a result of the appreciative development research, it became clear that the skills of supporting the lecturers should be learnt in the organization on a daily basis in co-creation and inclusive participation of the parties, which is why it is important to support networking and institutional learning at the university. We present the aspects in which the model has been successfully implemented and the aspects in which there exist further development needs. The study offers one possible practical experience to support the development of the academic staff in the field of academic professional development, using appreciative development research to study and develop the learning culture.
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