2012 | 2 | 2-3 | 121-131
Article title

Novice university teachers' professional learning: to follow traditions or change them?

Title variants
Languages of publication
Novice university teachers' academic careers often start without any formal preparation for teaching. University teachers' development as teachers depends on their ability to learn from different domains. This study was carried out with early-career teachers in Estonian higher education institutions. The paper analyses how novice teachers in higher education institutions have interpreted their first experiences as teachers, and how these experiences have affected their learning of how to teach. The study is based on 30 semi-structured interviews. The research demonstrates that differences in the journeys towards becoming a university teacher have shaped university teachers' knowledge of the domain, teaching-related beliefs about teaching and also motivation to work and develop as a university teacher. Novice teachers' learning is also influenced by the community, relationships in the community, teaching traditions and pedagogical courses. As a result of the study we find two orientations of professional learning: following the current teaching traditions or acting as agents of change.
Physical description
  • University of Tartu, Estonia
  • University of Tartu, Estonia
  • Åkerlind, G. S. (2003). Growing and developing as a university teacher - variation in meaning. Studies in Higher Education, 28(4), 375-390.[WoS]
  • Åkerlind, G. S. (2007). Constraints on academics' potential for developing as a teacher. Studies in Higher Education, 32(1), 21-37.
  • Archer, L. (2008). Younger academics' constructions of ‘authenticity’, ‘success’ and professional Identity. Studies in Higher Education, 33(4), 385-403.[WoS]
  • Bolander Laksov, K., Mann, S. & Dahlgren, L. O. (2008). Developing a Community of Practice around Teaching: a Case Study. Higher Education Research & Development, (2), 121-132.[WoS]
  • Boyd, P. (2010). Academic induction for professional educators: supporting the workplace learning of newly appointed lecturers in teacher and nurse education. International Journal for Academic Development, 15(2), 155-165.
  • Boyd, P. & Harris, K. (2010). Becoming a university lecturer in teacher education: expert school teachers reconstructing their pedagogy and identity. Professional Development in Education, 36, 1-2, 9-24.
  • Clarke, D., Hollingsworth, H. 2002. Elaborating a model of teacher professional growth. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18, 947-967.
  • Clegg, S. (2008). Academic identities under threat? British Educational Research Journal, 34(3), 329-345.[WoS]
  • Cortazzi, M. & Jin, L. (2006). Asking Questions, Sharing Stories and Identity Construction: socio-cultural issues in narrative research. In Trahar, S. (Eds.), Narrative Research on Learning: comparative and international perspectives (pp. 27-46). Bristol Papers in Education, Symposium Books.
  • Cortazzi, M. (1993). Narrative Analysis. The Falmer Press.
  • Entwistle, N., Skinner, D., Entwistle, D., Orr, S. (2000). Conceptions and Beliefs About "Good Teaching": an integration of contrasting research areas. Higher Education Research & Development, 19, 1, 5 - 26
  • Eraut, M. (2004). Informal learning in the workplace. Studies in Continuing Education, 26(2), 247-273.
  • Flick, U. (2006). An introduction to qualitative research. London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: Sage Publications.
  • Harrison, J., McKeon, F. (2010). Perceptions of beginning teacher educators of their development in research and scholarship: identifying the "turning point" experiences. Journal of Education for Teaching, 36, 1, 19-34.[WoS]
  • Henkel, M. (2000). Academic Identities and Policy Change in Higher Education. London: Jessica Kingsley.
  • Jawitz, J. (2009). Learning in the academic workplace: the harmonization of the collective and the individual habitus. Studies in Higher Education, 34, 6, 601-614.[WoS]
  • Kahn, P., Young, R., Grace, S., Pilkington, R., Rush, L., Tomkinson, B., Willis, I. (2008). Theory and legitimacy in professional education: a practitioner review of reflective processes within programmes for new academic staff. International Journal for Academic Development, 13(3), 161-173.
  • Kember, D. (1997). A Reconceptualisation of the Research into University Academics' Conceptions of Teaching. Learning and Instruction, 7, 3, 255-275.[Crossref]
  • Kugel, P. (1993). How Professors Develop as Teachers. Studies in Higher Education, 18(3), 315-28.
  • Lieblich, A., Tuval-Mashiach, R., Zilber, T. (1998). Narrative Research. Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi: Sage Publications.
  • McAlpine, L., Amundsen, C., Clement, M. & Light, G. (2009). Rethinking our underlying assumptions about what we do and why we do it: avademic development as a case. Studies in Continuing Education, 31, 261-280.[WoS]
  • McDonald, J. & Star, C. (2006). Designing the future of learning through a community of practice of lecturers of first year courses at an Australian university. Proceedings of the First International LAMS Conference. Retrieved February 10, 2011 from
  • McKenzie, J. (2003). Variation and change in university teachers' ways of experiencing teaching. Doctoral Thesis, University of Technology, Sydney.
  • Mishler, E. G. (1986). Research Interviewing: Context and Narrative. Cambridge, Massachusetts, London: Harvard University Press.
  • Nicholls, G. (2001). Professional Development in Higher Education. New dimensions and directions. Kogan Page.
  • Nicholls, G. (2002). Developing Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Routledge Falmer: Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Opfer, V. D. & Pedder, D. (2011). Conceptualizing Teacher Professional Learning. Review of Educational Research, 81(3), 376-407.[Crossref][WoS]
  • Postareff, L., Lindblom-Ylänne, S. & Nevgi, A. (2007). The effect of pedagogical training on teaching in higher education. Teaching and Lecturer Education, 23(5), 557-571.
  • Remmik, M. & Karm, M. (2009). Koolituse mõju õppejõudude õpetamisoskustele - väljakutsed ja võimalused. Haridus, 11-12, 20-26. [Impact of training on teaching skills of university lecturers - challenges and opportunities].
  • Sherman, T. M., Armistead, L. P., Fowler, F., Barksdale, M. A., Glenn Reif. G. (1987). The Quest for Excellence in University Teaching. Journal of Higher Education, 48(1), 66-84.[Crossref]
  • Tillema, H. H. 2004. Embedding and immersion as key strategies in learning to teach. In H. P. A. Boshuizen, R. Bromme, H. Gruber (Eds) Professional Learning: Gaps and Transitions on the Way from Novice to Expert. Dordrecht, Boston, London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 141-156.
  • Trowler, P. & Knight, P. (2000). Coming to know in higher education: Theorizing faculty entry to new work contexts. Higher Education Research & Development, 19(1), 27-42.[Crossref]
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.