Teacher Inquiry in Higher Education
Morris, Gina Kay
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A pervasive neoliberal doctrine is rapidly changing the landscape of higher education in the United States. Applying free-market ideology to the university sphere has created an environment in which faculty are expected to be expert researchers able to procure external funding as well as excellent teachers who produce students that strengthen the national economy. Yet, these two expectations are not often rewarded equally in research universities.The purpose of this qualitative case study is to examine the experiences of university instructors who conduct teacher inquiry and to explore the influence of this work on pedagogical practices and beliefs. Six professors at a land grant university were selected via purposeful sampling and data were collected through writing protocols, individual interviews, focus group interviews, and document analysis. Self-determination theory as described by Deci and Ryan (2000) and the stages of university teacher development as defined by Kugel (1993) were selected a priori and provided a lens through which to analyze data and present findings. The model of Dimensions of Activities Related to Teaching as proposed by Kern et al. (2015) was selected a posteriori in order to capture and depict the essence of participants' meanings of teacher inquiry. Study findings affirm the literature regarding professors' desires to be effective teachers and suggest that teacher inquiry in higher education can serve as transformative professional development. Furthermore, findings indicate that teacher inquiry may mitigate the barriers commonly associated with prohibiting professors' growth as teachers and can elicit teaching that is more authentic.
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