Western Australian Institute for Educational Research Inc.
Centre for Sustainable Regional Futures
In this paper we describe the experiences of 64 unit coordinators across 15 Australian universities, gathered during 2011/2012 as part of an Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) project. Our intention was to gain insight into how unit coordinators (academics who coordinate a discrete unit of study) perceive their role as leaders of learning in higher education and whether the support provided to them by their institutions meets their needs. The study is of international significance given the rapidly changing higher education landscape with larger class sizes, reduced funding and the increasing use of technology occurring globally. Following a brief background to the study, we describe our data collection which involved crafting 78 narratives from semi-structured interviews and their analysis, followed by a brief summary of our search for resources available to support unit coordinators, and the development of a purpose built website to enable widespread access to our narratives and the resources located. Our narrative data represents conversations with academics in unit coordinator positions and we discuss their perceptions of the role after clustering their responses into nine themes. Consistent with international findings, unit coordinators do not self-identify as leaders of learning and instead perceive themselves in terms of their responsibilities in teaching, maintaining and updating unit resources while liaising, collaborating and networking with colleagues. Without exception unit coordinators drew attention to their goal of inspiring students and their strong desire to make a difference to their students’ lives. Though they seldom referred to these drives as leading learning they nevertheless exert enormous influence on student learning. © 2016, Western Australian Institute for Educational Research Inc. All rights reserved.
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