Higher education has a central role in the education of professionals, traditionally intimately linked to the development of professions in medicine, law, theology and engineering (Grace, 2014). More recently higher education is positioned as crucial in the production of employable citizens across multiple fields (Marginson, 2014). Therefore, all higher education is (in)directly connected to the professional practise of their alumni's professional fields. This shift raises a question about the function of academic knowledge in the education of high-level professionals. It also raises questions about the functional connection between research and teaching. Academic knowledge often focusses on generalizable knowledge, whereas professionals aim to influence a specific case. Therefore, higher education trained professionals are likely to encounter the application limits of their academic knowledge-base and related research methods in their professional work. Applied knowledge is also presumed to have a different methodological base (Gibbons et al., 1994).
For this conference, we particularly invite proposals about higher education research that address linkages between research, teaching and/or professional practice (in which academic practice can also be considered a profession). How do research and teaching be linked in such a way that it educates flexible academics and/or professionals? How do research and practice collectively provide knowledge for educational programmes? What pedagogies lead to educating alumni who can be the linking-pin between new knowledge and their professional practice? All other proposals addressing higher education research are very welcome as well.
For the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning track, we particularly invite proposals that focus on evidence-based innovation in higher education. Proposals in this track will be reviewed with a focus on methodology for educational change.
Higher education: a field of research
Despite the importance and fluctuations of higher education as a sector, as research discipline, it is very diverse, fast growing through the massification of universities. This discipline is more practically than theoretically oriented, with only a small group of experienced researchers. It differs from other disciplines because of the few connections between the top EU-funded research and the broad bottom of empirical research. Higher education research within universities is located within a range of disciplines such as sociology, humanities, management studies, educational development and teacher training. Only a few established centres represent higher education research as a separate discipline. The focus on higher education research is limited in many countries. While the number of PhD's in the field of higher education is increasing, their supervisors often do not know about higher education as a discipline. At the same time, policymakers need new ideas for developing higher education, as well as evaluations of the current status quo. Therefore, it now time to develop new strategies for raising capacity in higher education, and enabling and further establishing closer links between the broader field of higher education research and its core stakeholders.
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