|International Research Conference, Lancaster UK, 21-23 July 2014|
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Scholarship of teaching, professional learning, professional practice: Evidence-based or virtues-based practices?
Carolin Kreber, Institute for Education, Community and Society, School or Education, University of Edinburgh. email@example.com
I propose that the scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL) is reflective inquiry into teaching and learning undertaken by academic staff with the goal of supporting the important interests of students. Here I analyse SOTL through the lens of ‘virtue’, intellectual and moral, suggesting that it helps us appreciate the different kinds of activity associated with such inquiry. Eventually my ambition is to broaden the scope of this discussion to educational research on professional practices other than teaching. I pursue five objectives. First, I intend to show that SOTL is enabled through the intellectual virtues of ‘episteme’ (theoretical knowledge), ‘techne’ (productive knowledge) and ‘phronesis’ (practical knowledge), each associated with a different ‘activity’. I begin by outlining the nature of episteme (linked perhaps to what Bamber calls global knowledge) but distinguish two kinds: 1) episteme conceived of as ‘science‘ and 2) episteme conceived of as ‘philosophy’. The latter allows me to enter into a discussion of the purposes of SOTL, which, as noted, can be understood as supporting the students’ important interests. These interests, I suggest, are the students’ ‘authenticity’. Second, having established the nature of episteme, I turn to techne and phronesis in SOTL suggesting that ‘phronesis’, especially a ‘critically inspired phronesis’, assumes a vital position among the virtues. Not only does it infuse SOTL with the practical wisdom required to make decisions about how to act in concrete situations, but it enables the proper enactment of the moral virtues (e.g., truthfulness, justice and courage) without which the standards associated with ‘scholarship’ cannot be upheld. Third, I suggest that the virtues underpinning SOTL –intellectual and moral- are developed through engagement in SOTL ‘communities’. Fourth, I propose that meaningful evidence-based/informed practice (as SOTL is often referred to) is not rooted exclusively in an instrumental rationality but engages all the virtues discussed here. Fifth, connecting with the conference theme I endeavour to broaden the argument to professions other than teaching, suggesting that greater impact of educational research (on professional practice) might be achievable by creating shared communities of inquiry with those responsible for the practice, thereby cultivating the virtues necessary to improve practice.
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