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Academic developers: an academic tribe claiming their territory in higher education

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In this paper we review the current debate regarding the work of academic developers in higher education and their rightful "place" in higher education, particularly with regard to notions of the discipline, research and scholarship of teaching. We describe and compare the work of discipline academics and academic developers and argue that the two are more similar to each other than different. We acknowledge the challenges and tensions that exist in the overlap between the domains of expertise of discipline academics and academic developers, and attempt to articulate sources of these tensions in a conceptual model. Ultimately we defend two propositions: (1) that academic developers are, by the nature of their work, academics, and (2) that the discipline that academic development is a part of, namely the discipline of higher education, is a legitimate academic discipline in its own right. The consequences of these two propositions are explored.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2004

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