Aalto University Design Factory (FINLAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 2447-2456
ISBN: 978-84-616-2661-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
As the academics in universities are experiencing rapid and continuous change, skills for promoting pedagogical transformations on an organizational level are called for. Pedagogical transformations are typically explored in the context of pedagogical training programs targeted towards educating more pedagogically aware individuals. However, in most Finnish universities, especially in the fields of Science and Technology, no pedagogical training is required from the teaching faculty. In this study, pedagogical transformations are explored on a communal level through unofficial change agency. Change agents are pedagogically aware faculty members who act as brokers (Wenger 1998) by establishing new mutually shared pedagogical concepts and practices between their academic and pedagogical communities of practice. The aim of this study is to investigate how university academics define pedagogical change agency in the fields of Science and Technology, and what kinds of challenges are related to acting as a change agent. 13 university teachers from the fields of Science and Technology were asked to describe change agency before participating to pedagogical change agency program in Spring 2011. The descriptions were compared to the model of brokering and categorized with content analysis.

The findings suggest that pedagogical change agency can be realized through modes of belonging to a community of practice as multimembership, creating a shared repertoire, engagement, motivating for development, leading by example, and imagination. The perceived challenges of the modes of belonging were also related to engagement, as the teachers talked about the loneliness of acting as a change agent. Change agency can also be realized through practices, such as making changes, developing holistic systems, creating boundary practices, and translation, coordination and alignment between perspectives. Changing by doing in practice was perceived challenging because of resistance to change and lack of time and other resources for development. Identities of a change agent consisted of development motivation, non-participation, and expertise. Challenges of identity were related to the anarchistic nature of change agency. The interviewees also underrated change agency themselves by joking about being bad employees and silly idealists who avoid doing real work. When realized through negotiation of meaning, change agency included sharing information, promoting dialogue, and reinterpreting meaning. The difficulties related to meaning included the perceived individualistic nature of academic work and lack of value for teaching.

The results imply that change agency can be understood according to the model of brokering. When promoting pedagogical transformations in higher education, recognizing brokering between various communities of practice as a valuable source of development and providing support for the ways of acting as a change agent presented in this study become critical. The challenges described in the data highlight the academic traditions of teaching in the fields of Science and Technology. Finding ways of overcoming those challenges might support the spreading of pedagogical transformations on a communal level. The revised model of brokering and the challenges experienced in acting as a change agent should be considered as a basis for designing pedagogical training programs in higher education.
Higher education, change agency, brokering, training and development, transformative change.