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Reframing pedagogic practices using a social practice perspective to explain and inform change in the Irish Technological Higher Education Sector

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Nuala Harding
Publication date14/12/2022
Number of pages200
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This practice-focused ethnographic study was conducted in the context of the Irish technological higher education sector to elucidate and enhance pedagogic practices during a time of radical change with the establishment of Technological Universities. Underpinned by Social Practice Theory (SPT), the Teaching and Learning Regime (TLR) theoretical framework was trialled to reframe the pedagogic practices of lecturers within the sector. Rather than deploying a narrow focus of evaluating the impact of professional development using a practice perspective, this study explored broader questions regarding change to pedagogic practices, including the material environment and contextual factors which condition their adoption. The ontological perspective of Critical Realism (CR) informed the design of a theory-driven methodological approach to research design and analysis of data. A process for the systematic mapping of data to the TLR theoretical framework was devised.
Nineteen postgraduate diploma graduates from four geographically dispersed Institutes of Technology (IoTs) participated in this research study. The postgraduate programme was designed to develop pedagogic practices and address sectoral requirements. An essential aspect of the research design was the requirement for research participants to teach for one year after graduation. This enabled the examination of pedagogic practices and conditioners of change within the workgroup. To avoid reliance on self-reporting and informed by the SPT elements of materials, competences and meanings, the variety of data collection methods included semi-structured and focus group interviews, classroom observations and digital artefacts to represent teaching.
New perspectives of pedagogic practices emerged with substantial evidence of early-career transmission-focused practices changing to contemporary approaches, thereby impacting student experiences. The TLR transpired to be a comprehensive theory for understanding, explaining, and implementing change in higher education. The study will inform the design and evaluation of professional development and change initiatives at the micro-, meso- and macro-level in the Irish technological higher education sector.