Research Output
Brokering between communities of practice: strenghening learning with co-operative practices
  There is a growing trend in Higher Education to separate researchers' and teachers' roles. In the UK, pressure for this comes from the Research Excellence Framework, which demands world class research in return for government funding. An unintended consequence of this forced separation is for Teaching-Focused Academics to (TFAs) become detached from disciplinary research, which may lead to them questioning their suitability to teach at honours and postgraduate level. Similarly, Research-Focused Academics (RFAs) do not develop their knowledge of pedagogy. This presentation looks at how the promotion of brokering could be used to exploit the expertise of both TFAs and RFAs, leading to better research-informed teaching.
In this session, I explore findings from a group of twenty-one UK Life Science Teaching-Focused Academics, and their engagement with the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. One of the central issues for this group of academics was an uneasiness with the knowledge that their disciplinary research skills were becoming outdated, which made them question their continuing ability to teach in a research-intensive university at higher levels (honours and postgraduate). Workloads and roles made it impossible to keep up with disciplinary research as well as pedagogic research. However, the separation of teaching and disciplinary roles has created two parallel Communities of Practice, one teaching-focused, the other research-focused. While Wenger discusses the formation of Communities of Practice, via joint enterprise, shared repertoire and mutual engagement, he also discusses how Communities of Practice can learn from one another. This is done by two means: by the sharing of Boundary Objects, and by the process of brokering. I shall explore how both SoTL and disciplinary research can be viewed as Boundary Objects, and how these can be traded by Teaching-Focused and Research-Focused Academics in order to benefit from one another’s expertise. By working together and sharing knowledge, new disciplinary research can be incorporated into undergraduate learning, in a scholarly manner, underpinned by pedagogic research, which can then be evaluated and improved upon.

  • Type:

    Conference Paper (unpublished)

  • Date:

    18 July 2016

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    LB2300 Higher Education

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    378 Higher education

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Tierney, A. (2016, July). Brokering between communities of practice: strenghening learning with co-operative practices. Paper presented at Improving Univesity Teaching, University of Durham



Higher Education, researcher, teaching, Teaching-Focused Academics to (TFAs), Research-Focused Academics (RFAs), research-informed teaching,

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