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Becoming an Educational Developer: A Canadian University Perspective

Abstract: This study sought to understand how individuals come to be educational developers, specifically, their individual and collective journeys toward entry to the profession, the drivers and conditions that shape developer pathways, a sense of how practitioners characterize their developer role and conceive the field overall, and, finally, the point at which they come to associate with the field and identify with what they do. To explore and examine these questions, a qualitative study was undertaken with a subset of the development community. Eighteen Canadian university educational developers, all formally associated with a campus-wide or discipline-based teaching and learning unit, were invited to share their stories. Drawing upon the metaphor of journey to conceptualize the research and storytelling process, and framing the analysis and discussion from a career development and community of practice perspective, the process of becoming an educational developer was revealed. Two trajectories to educational development were identified: (1) those coming from outside higher education and (2) those transitioning from within their academic institution. Various conditions, situational factors, social encounters, or drivers, often serendipitous in form, influenced their journeys, with some participants experiencing more direct paths to the profession and others encountering more twists and turns. Select types of individuals (gatekeepers, distractors, mentors, enablers) also significantly impacted their pathways. Participants characterized their developer role broadly (facilitator, connector, consultant, champion, change agent) and conceived educational development along service, professional, and academic lines. Commitment to the profession and their role solidified within two to four years upon entry. Currently, the field of educational development operates without any formalized career structures to guide entry to or facilitate advancement within the profession. As the community continues to grow and situate itself within the higher education landscape, identifying what attracts developers to the field, their individual pathways, as well as how and when they come to associate with the profession, especially in the absence of socialization and induction strategies, is crucial. With limited research examining the process of becoming a developer and the attraction of working in the field, this study provides a basis from which to continue to examine questions associated with growing and sustaining an emergent profession.

Author: Jeanette McDonald

Source: University of Toronto - TSpace

Size: 1.60 MB
Last Updated: July 31, 2015