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The idea of impact and its implications for academic development work

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In the current context of higher education, those working in academic development feel the need to demonstrate the impact that their work makes on achieving desired institutional outcomes. In this paper, we examine the concept of impact, consider the various meanings of impact and review ways that the term has been used rhetorically and conceptually in relation to academic development. We explore our experience of working in an academic development unit (ADU) and what role impact may have played in our motivations and outcomes. Specifically, we document the changes in the focus, format and language of the ADU's annual reports over three years and reflect on what these revealed to us about our approach to academic development work and the idea of impact. Dans le contexte actuel de l'enseignement superieur, ceux qui oeuvrent dans le domaine du developpement pedagogique ressentent le besoin de demontrer l'impact de leur travail en relation avec les resultats institutionnels escomptes. Dans cet article, nous examinons la notion d'impact, nous etudions ses diverses significations et nous passons en revue les facons avec lesquelles cette notion a ete utilisee aux plans rhetorique et conceptuel en lien avec le developpement pedagogique. Nous explorons notre experience de travail au sein d'une unite de developpement pedagogique (ADU) et quel role l'impact a pu jouer a l'egard de nos motivations et de nos resultats. De facon plus specifique, nous documentons les changements de focus, de format ou de langage observes dans les rapports annuels de notre ADU sur une periode de trois ans et reflechissons a ce que cela nous a revele au sujet de notre approche a l'egard du travail de developpement pedagogique et de la notion d'impact.

Keywords: effectiveness; effort; impact; outcomes; reflection; reporting

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Biomedical Multimedia Unit, University of Melbourne, Australia 2: Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Australia

Publication date: 2008-06-01

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