THE RISK OF INNOVATION: UNIVERSITY LECTURERS’ PERCEPTION OF THE RISKS INVOLVED IN INNOVATIVE PRACTICES AND PROJECTS
Universidad San Jorge (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The concept of risk in innovation, defined as the art of making changes in a given context, with a specific intended outcome, through a range of procedures and techniques (Morin y Seurat, 1998), has been widely researched in the literature when applied to areas such as public service, business and enterprise. However, less published evidence regarding the characterisation and measurement of risk in teaching innovation in higher education was found. Similarly, there was scarce information regarding the teachers’ own perception and experience of risk and risk taking when designing and implementing innovative practices and projects in this context.
Thus, this project aimed to explore the concept of risk in relation to the design and implementation of innovative practices and projects, as perceived by a convenience sample of teaching staff at the USJ (Universidad San Jorge).
Framed in the interpretive paradigm, this qualitative study used a phenomenological approach to explore the lived experience of risk perception and risk-taking when implementing innovative teaching strategies. Two methods of data collection were used in this study, namely two focus group interviews, and a systematic review of innovative practices including those submitted and compiled in the USJ I, II, III and IV Conference on Teaching Innovation Proceedings and other conferences, and those published in peer-reviewed journals.
The following themes emerged from the analysis of the information collected: multiple meanings are applied to teaching innovation in higher education; the perception of risk-taking when considering the introduction of an innovative practice plays a key role in the teacher’s final decision to implement (or not to implement) the change; there is a general belief that the impact or effect of innovation on student learning cannot be quantified, rather it is assessed through subjective perception; the utilisation of theoretical models and frameworks prior to the design of the innovative practice is uneven, which adds to the perception of risk-taking in teaching innovation in higher education.
A preliminary model of risk-taking in teaching innovation is proposed including four risk areas: student learning, personal/social life, professional standing and position within the institution. Other secondary elements contributing to risk in innovation include the significance of the change and the philosophical or theoretical framework behind the innovative practice. A close relationship exists between the concepts of responsibility in teaching innovation and risk control, but the nature of such relationship will need to be investigated further in subsequent studies.