Victoria University (AUSTRALIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 3152-3163
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
This paper reports the outcomes of a phenomenographic analysis of the working knowledge of academics in a ‘new generation’ university in Melbourne Australia. Phenomenography seeks to identify and describe variation in experiences of phenomena within a population (Marton and Booth 1997). Phenomenographic studies describing variation in student learning and parallel studies describing variation in teachers’ approaches to teaching were and continue to be influential in the field of learning and teaching in higher education (Dall Alba 1990, Martin and Balla 1991, Samuelowicz and Bain 1992, Kember and Gow 1994, Prosser et al 1994, Trigwell et al 1994, Prosser and Waterhouse 1999 ). This study thus sought to identify and describe variation in academics’ working knowledge – or knowledge ‘put to work’ in day to day academic work, and builds on prior work focused on academics’ experiences of their teaching and research (Akerlind 2007/8, Prosser et al 2007).

Two levels of analysis were conducted in the development of descriptions of variation in the meanings academics gave to their working knowledge. On the first level, analytic procedures typical of phenoemenographic research were used to develop descriptions of variation in three domains of working knowledge identified in a prior preliminary analysis. The domains of teaching and administration were identified by all 20 academics in the study, while research was identified by most participants. In the second level of analysis descriptions of variation in each domain were brought together with the aim of developing understandings about the relations between domains of working knowledge in day to day work and how these varied. Procedures developed to undertake this level of analysis were an innovative to phenomenographic research, and resulted in the description of variation in a multi-phenomenal field (working knowledge).

The results of the study as well as the nature of the innovation are discussed in this presentation. The implications of both the findings of the study for understanding academics’ experiences of their work including teaching and research, and the method used to develop these are the focus of the discussion.
Phenomenographyr, educational research, academic development, working knowledge.