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Scholarship, leadership and technology: A case study of embedding evidence-based practice

Linda Creanor  is based at the Glasgow Caledonian University, in Scotland which is a post-92 institution, with 17,000 students, and 3 academic schools. There is a strong emphasis on learning. They have been inspired by examples from around the world and taken them back to their own context where they have been adapted.

Some of the challenges faced include:

  • Maintaining staff engagement in the innovative learning and teaching
  • Career progression seems to focus on research rather than expertise in learning and teaching
  • The changing nature of learning and teaching due to technology advances is not always underpinned by pedagogy
  • There are pockets of excellence but making sure that they are mainstreamed is a challenge
  • Need to link various aspects of CPD, scholarship and technology together,and all with increasingly limited resources

Leadership is key in transformational change alongside change agent roles (Chapman, 2002). They came across the distributive leadership model (Lefoe, 2010)  "a distribution of power within the sociocultural context of universities and a sharing of knowledge, of practice and reflection through collegiality" (lefoe, 2007, p. 5). These ideas were then used to develop GCU's CPD framework for learning and teaching, and this was launched in 2008.

The Caledonia Scholarships and Associates model is competitive, peer reviewed, and supported by senior management. There is status attached to the roles and the criteria were linked to promotion. The projects are expected to be action research, evidence-based, and to embrace learning technology. This were influenced by scholarship (Boyer, 1990). There is minimal resourcing (2,000 UK pounds per scholar). The money the scholar gets could be used for conference attendance, or for data processing, for example.

The institution wanted to try to engage people in innovation, and provide opportunities for new and experienced staff to maintain continuing engagement with scholarly approaches to learning and teaching throughout their careers. Although they started with individuals, there are now small groups working together on projects.

Facilitation is through f-2-f meetings, an online community in BlackBoard, a blog, shared resources, methodologies and experiences.

The findings indicate that the status and the role are as important as the project. Impacts include (over 48 associates over 3 years) 36 projects undertaken, minimal resourcing of a very effective initiative (including awards, promotion, and development of valuable research findings). "The Scholars and Associates Program has proved to be beneficial to participants in a variety of ways in the initial phase" (external evaluator). There is continuing support, and growing evidence of scholarly activity. It appears to be a sustainable, cost-effective model. In the future they are moving toward strategic focussed - such as a new role of Caledonian Fellow has been approved by Senate and is under development.

Image at the top of the post: Image via Wikipedia

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