Exploring group professional learning practice in discipline-based professional learning communities


Recently, there has been an increased focus on teaching quality in higher education and this has led to greater attention being placed on teaching development. For some universities, teaching-focused academics who specialise in teaching their discipline have been employed as part of this focus. We know that university educators are strongly influenced in their teaching practice by their peers and that educators often share practice in the disciplines they align with. The link between socialisation in these groups and engagement with teaching practice on a meaningful level is well explored. However, there is still a limited understanding of the specifics surrounding how identity is constructed in these professional communities. This is significant because educator identity influences teaching practice.

As identity is contextual and disciplinary environments differ across a university, understanding how teaching-focused academics interact in specific disciplines may offer insights into ways of building stronger educator identities within traditionally research-intensive academic institutions. For science disciplines in many Australian universities there is an increasing focus on transforming undergraduate courses from fact-based transmission to more complex pedagogies that represent how modern science is practiced. Further attention has been placed on science disciplines as governments, employers and society call for graduates with skills in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). As a result of this, many have advocated for developing evidence-based teaching practices in science classrooms.

In this study, I aim to understand how the sharing of practice constructs educator identity in disciplinary contexts. Specifically, a focused ethnography research methodology will be used to investigate how teaching-focused academics construct reality and identity through social practices in a professional learning community. This will be done in the context of the Faculty of Science, in a research-intensive university. This study will contribute to our understanding of how teaching-focused academics in Science construct their identities as teachers through sharing practice.

Principal Advisor

Kelly Matthews

Other advisor/s

Karen Moni, Deanne Gannaway

Panel Chair

Rhonda Faragher

Other panel member/s

Jason Lodge and Michael Drinkwater

Date of confirmation seminar

7 December 2017

Start time


Finish time


About HDR Confirmation Seminars

The Confirmation Seminar is the first public presentation in the UQ milestone process.

Staff and students are urged to attend to support your colleagues at this first outing of their project.




Building 17