Professional Development for Academics

"How can we deliver innovative professional development programs that promote teaching excellence?

The nature and scope of professional development (PD) for academics in higher education is changing. Typically, professional development is conducted through centralised Academic Development (AD) groups within universities. This may include introductions to broad teaching concepts, learning management systems of the university and the use of educational technologies. Built Environment disciplines, like other disciplines, have relevant pedagogical and curricular challenges with implications for tailored professional development of academics.

Faculty/Discipline-specific AD groups can provide dedicated support to enhance teaching quality and tailor professional development support to specific needs within programs and disciplines. The faculty-specific groups operate in multiple Third Spaces (Whitchurch 2008) as they collaborate with faculty and university stakeholders.

What does BEL+T investigate in this area?

BEL+T investigates and provides professional development support for teachers in built environment disciplines.  This work has included:

  • Casual teaching staff development and support.
  • Enhancing teaching practices by amplifying student voices
  • Peer review of teaching, and peer-supported reflection programs

How are these contributing to high-quality and relevant learning experiences? 

BEL+T has developed the following outcomes from this area of research:

  • Professional development programs for academic staff, covering a range of topics including culturally inclusive teaching, student-led teaching and student feedback literacy.
  • Staff-facing resources to support online and BSL/Dual Delivery during and beyond the pandemic.

What is next on the horizon?

Moving forward, BEL+T is committed to exploring new directions in professional development practices, including:

  • The role/s of discipline-specific academic development groups in enhancing academic practices.
  • Research methodologies for academic development through a built environment disciplinary lens.
  • Faculty-wide casual staff engagement programs

BEL+T Projects

  • COVID-19 Catalyst: Emergent Pedagogies

    The global COVID-19 pandemic has delivered extraordinary challenges across geographies as well as practices, and academia has not been spared. While the events of 2020 and 2021 have revealed some limits to teaching in the ‘old (pre-pandemic) normal’, technology-supported pedagogies have been changing the education landscape for many years. This pandemic has been a potent catalyst, not only for ad-hoc adaptation, but also for global and longer-term change. The ‘old normal’ is now long passed, and approaches to learning and teaching continue to explore new ground ... including new ‘locations’ for education to draw on the best of all vintages of normals!

    This paper describes the Delivery, Interaction, Assessment (DIA) learning design framework that was developed by BEL+T throughout 2020 and 2021, and continues to be used to support teaching conversation. The translation of the elements of the DIA framework and its related ‘DIAgram’ to specific learning activities are presented ‘on the (virtual) ground’. Some emergent pedagogies for virtual learning environments (VLEs) are outlined, exploring relationships between students, teachers, objects, sites and VLEs for learning, alongside implications for teacher presence and performance online.

    Tregloan, K., Samayoa, N., Chu, A., Jativa, F. ‘COVID-19 catalyst: emergent pedagogies and a DIAgram framework’. Architecture_MPS 22, 1 (2022): 3.

  • Buckle Up! ... BEL+T group learnings from a (very fast) move online

    This article describes the support provided by the BEL+T (Built Environments Learning + Teaching) group at the University of Melbourne, to facilitate the 'move online' of learning that was prompted by  COVID-19.

    The article outlines how this support related to pedagogical,  technical and cultural challenges in the Faculty of Architecture Building and  Planning. The DIA framework, its DIAgram and related resources developed  by BEL+T informed changes to the delivery of relevant content, support  for effective interaction with and between students, and online  assessment approaches. The article identifies the elements of the framework in terms of  architectural learning in the context of a return to campus, hybrid/dual  delivery modes and new challenges.

    Tregloan, K. & Thompson, J. (2021). Buckle Up! ... BEL T group learnings from a (very fast) move online. Charrette, 7(1), pp. 59-75.

  • Advancing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Architectural History

    This paper explores the potential for architectural history to engage more widely and more deeply with the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). Through a review of published SoTL from architectural history and related disciplines, as well as interviews with architectural history educators in Australia and New Zealand, the aim is to identify barriers and enablers to SoTL.

    These educators, each with recent SoTL outputs of their own, represent a nascent subculture within the discipline. Their perspective articulates the valuable contribution of SoTL towards the discipline’s wider debates on its relevance. This insight thus provides a basis upon which to build an approach to SoTL tailored to the discipline’s cultural norms and contextual demands.

    Whilst architectural history educators have certainly engaged in discussions regarding what gets taught and how it gets delivered, such discourse is rarely elevated to the level of critical scholarship. SoTL is the mechanism by which educators can evaluate and disseminate their own pedagogical innovations, thus yielding evidence to inform further development across the discipline. Additional opportunities presented by SoTL include deeper engagement with the field’s ongoing political projects, such as decolonising the curriculum, as well as ongoing developments across higher education related to changing student demographics, needs and expectations. Indeed, the SAHANZ community occupies a prime position for elevating the rigour of SoTL activity and providing a platform for engaging in discourse surrounding pedagogical innovation.

    We might take inspiration from colleagues in art history and the humanities, who recently reflected on the role of SoTL in response to fears and misconceptions within their fields.3 Their reflections further emphasise the essential role that SoTL plays in altering the trajectory of any field towards one that values scholarship-informed teaching as an integral activity.

    Thompson, J. (2020). Advancing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Architectural History. Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ): What If? What Next? Speculations on History’s Futures.

Related Scholarship