This research study seeks to better understand the experience of mid-career development in teaching practice from the perspective of faculty themselves. This focus addresses several gaps in the current research which include: the lack of empirical research on mid-career post-secondary faculty; the lack of research on the experience of development from the perspective of faculty; and the lack of research that views development in teaching practice as a complex professional learning process that involves individual, social, and contextual elements as well as interrelationships between these elements. To address these gaps, this research study adopts a sociocultural perspective of learning and a phenomenological approach to the research. A sociocultural perspective views learning as holistic and situated in the context of activity or practice – in this case, teaching practice. A phenomenological approach examines descriptions of experiences of a phenomenon in order to uncover an essential structure of that experience. This research study employed a descriptive phenomenological approach using data from 12 interview participants and 21 survey participants. Participants were full-time mid-career college faculty and came from two different institutions. The interview and online survey questions were phenomenological in that they were designed to elicit rich descriptions of the raw experience of development in teaching practice. The data was analyzed using Giorgi’s (2009) descriptive phenomenological approach and from the analysis, a structure of the experience of development in teaching practice emerged. The findings of this study are related to the multi-phased and multidimensional structure of experience that emerged from the data. This structure includes four phases of the experience – a catalyst phase, an idea development phase, an implementation phase, and an outcomes phase. Each phase involves individual, social, and contextual elements as well as interrelationships between these elements. These interrelationships are examined through the lens of Billett’s (2002) theory of co-participation, a theory that views workplace learning as resulting from an interaction between workplace affordances and individual engagement. This multi-phased and multidimensional structure offers a conceptual basis for deconstructing professional learning related to development in teaching practice for mid-career college faculty.
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Thesis advisor: Amundsen, Cheryl
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