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Fostering a culture of learning about teaching: Ideas from research on expertise

King, Helen


Dr Helen King
Professor and Associate Director of Academic Practice


A key characteristic of expert performance is continuous learning and development through a process of ‘Deliberate Practice’ (Ericsson et al, 1993) or ‘Progressive Problem Solving’ (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1993). These concepts have been explored empirically to identify how they are expressed in a broad range of professions including athletics, music, the arts and business (van de Wiel et al, 2004). Whilst there has been some research on expertise in relation to teachers in secondary schools (e.g. Berliner, 2001; Tsui, 2003), there appears to be little so far in relation to teachers in higher education (HE).
Similarly, there has been considerable interest in ways of thinking and practising (WTP) in the disciplines (e.g., arising from Meyer & Land, 2003; Pace & Middendorf, 2004); however, research into HE teachers’ WTP is relatively sparse. More in‐depth work in this area would provide useful evidence to inform professional development programmes (Saroyan & Trigwell, 2015). Furthermore, Ericsson (2017) notes that, in a variety of domains, it is has been shown that professional development activities which align to the criteria for Deliberate Practice in that field lead to enhancements in performance.

Characteristics of expertise and WTP, therefore, potentially offer interesting approaches to conceptualising teaching and its development in higher education. The consideration of such approaches provides opportunities for different types of conversations about the learning cultures of those who teach in higher education and the role of scholarship. It draws the focus of faculty development away from formal training and events, and offers a complementary alternative to the concept of reflective practice (Moon, 2001).

This paper will briefly introduce some common models for the acquisition and maintenance of expert performance exploring their potential relevance to teaching in higher education. In addition, emergent findings will be shared from the author’s research into expert educators’ approaches to learning about and improving their teaching practice.


King, H. (2018, October). Fostering a culture of learning about teaching: Ideas from research on expertise

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Location Bergen, Norway
Start Date Oct 23, 2018
End Date Oct 27, 2018
Acceptance Date May 29, 2018
Publication Date Oct 25, 2018
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords expertise, higher education, professional development
Public URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning