Teaching and Research within Further Education Colleges: chalk and cheese?
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The expansion of Higher Education (HE) into Further Education (FE) Colleges has resulted in college lecturers with responsibility for teaching HE courses experiencing considerable changes in their working practices. College lecturers have worked collaboratively with universities to develop HE courses and been presented with opportunities to engage in scholarly activity and research. This paper draws on the experience of a group of college lecturers who undertook research into aspects of their teaching practice through an initiative introduced by the Higher Education Learning Partnerships (HELP) Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL). Through a series of semi-structured interviews, this paper examines the impact of their projects and experiences as researchers on their practice, and on the learning experiences they provided for their students. The paper explores the context of delivering HE within FE, and the lessons that can be learned from undertaking practitioner-led research in this environment. As the college lecturers demonstrate, their research was found to enhance their practice, and was highlighted as validating their profession identities as HE in FE professionals. They also considered the tensions and challenges present within an FE college where research activities are not necessarily seen a part of the teaching role. Based on the experiences of these college lecturers this paper argues for a more pro-active approach to scholarly activity in an HE in FE context.
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