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A matter of trust and identity: some university teachers’ responses to the increased use of information technology in their working environment

Spencer, H.; (2011) A matter of trust and identity: some university teachers’ responses to the increased use of information technology in their working environment. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This is a qualitative study into university teachers’ responses to e-learning technology (eLT), situated within the debate about how greater use of eLT might affect universities’ role in Society. The context is the increased use of eLT in Higher Education and its promotion by various stakeholders. Its effect on students has been well researched but less may be found relating to teachers. The movement may therefore be insufficiently informed about eLT’s effect on university teachers, leading to potentially negative consequences. My methodology, inspired by Kvale’s traveller/researcher metaphor, is based on interviews and thematic analyses of their transcripts. Participants’ reactions to the technologies they use are explored in semi-structured, in-depth interviews where the interviewees describe their feelings on a range of issues related to their use of eLT. Through these conversations I find that, whilst most of the interviewees see themselves as technophiles, they are nonetheless experiencing issues which could adversely affect their teaching. I group these into three themes: control, privacy and knowledge ownership and explore how they may be interrelated through underlying ‘meta-themes’ related to teachers’ feelings of identity and trust. I also discover that many of these feelings are not overt, even to the teachers concerned, but only become apparent in certain circumstances. The implications are that critical decisions about technology and teachers’ wellbeing, if taken only on the strength of surveys or structured interviews, may be ill founded and lead to unwelcome consequences. I conclude that teachers’ responses to eLT need to be understood from a plural perspective, including considerations of trust and identity, if eLT-based practices are to be successfully introduced into Higher Education. If teachers lose their trust (in their students, management or peers) and question their professional identity, their ability to give of their best to their teaching may suffer, with potentially detrimental effects on the sector.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:A matter of trust and identity: some university teachers’ responses to the increased use of information technology in their working environment
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > VP Education > CALT (Centre for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching)

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