Who do you talk to: Significant conversations in academic microcultures

Katarina Mårtensson, an academic developer and researcher from Lund University, Sweden presents her research on academic microcultures, significant networks and leadership at the  University of Calgary Conference on Postsecondary Learning and Teaching on May 3, 2017.

Who do you talk to: Significant conversations in academic microcultures

Faculty members are the most pivotal actors if teaching and learning is to develop. Engagement in conversations and scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) can improve the quality of teaching as well as student learning (Trigwell & Shale, 2004). However, these processes do not happen in isolation.  Faculty, students and supportive staff are all part of sociocultural, collegial contexts where norms, values and traditions are developed over time (Trowler, 2008). This leads to certain taken-for-granteds, assumptions and practices in relation to teaching, learning and assessment. Any teaching team, working group, academic programme or department could be said to constitute an academic microculture (Roxå & Mårtensson, 2015) that has developed its own set of such traditions in relation to teaching and learning. 

 This presentation will highlight some of the sociocultural factors that influence the academic workplace, in particular the role of significant and collegial conversations. These factors are useful to know about whether one is in academia as a faculty member, a support staff, a student, a leader, an academic developer or other. Drawing on a recent book-chapter (Mårtensson & Roxå, 2016), concepts such as significant networks (Roxå & Mårtensson, 2009), academic microcultures (Roxå & Mårtensson, 2015) and communities of practice (Wenger, 1999) will be explored and exemplified, and their relevance for development of teaching and learning will be discussed.


Dr. Katarina Mårtensson is senior lecturer and academic developer at Lund University, Sweden. Her work includes supporting organisational development through academic development, scholarship of teaching and learning, and leadership. Her research and publishing focuses on social networks, academic microcultures, and academic leadership, and her PhD-thesis in 2014 was titled Influencing teaching and learning microcultures: Academic development in a research-intensive university. She is co-president elect of ISSOTL, the International Society for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, and between 2013-2016 co-editor of IJAD, the International Journal for Academic Development. 

Videography: Brian Pshyk, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning and Bob Bowman, Pixel Video Production

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