Considering teaching in higher education as a practice

Fitzmaurice, M. (2010) Considering teaching in higher education as a practice. Teaching in Higher Education, 15 (1). pp. 45-55. ISSN 13562517 (ISSN)


At a time when learning and teaching in higher education have become the focus of increasing attention and high priority is being accorded to the attainment of excellence in teaching there is a growing concern that teaching is being reduced to the acquisition of a set of competencies. This paper will draw on the work of Alasdair MacIntyre to explore the nature of a practice and of teaching as a practice, and then draw on a case study of teachers in a higher education institute in Ireland to gain some insights into the realities of practice. While acknowledging that this knowledge is unequivocally contextual, this case study has the potential to contribute to our understanding of teaching by affording insights into how teachers respond to the challenges of practice. The paper will argue that to conceive of teaching as a practice, in the manner in which practice is explained and elaborated by MacIntyre, moves us beyond a narrow and mechanistic view of teaching built around the adoption of effective strategies to one that is broader in scope and takes into account notions of internal standards of excellence, complexity and integrity. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.

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