Learning and teaching beyond four walls: choosing autoethnography to report the case

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Rowe, S 2010, 'Learning and teaching beyond four walls: choosing autoethnography to report the case', paper presented to A scholarly affair: the Cultural Studies Association of Australasia national conference, Byron Bay NSW, 7-9 December.


This paper explains the choice of autoethnography to report PhD research underpinning the individual historical case study that is my career in a volatile higher education sector for the period 1986-­‐2009. A critical and reflexive lens was applied to examine the archival material that is my office. It contains detailed records accumulated from ordinary, everyday academic activities across this period (and beyond). I am in the privileged position of having taught the same subjects, in the same institution, across that period. I have moved from teaching small classes face-­‐to-­‐face on a single campus to teach and support student learning entirely online for more than 200 students across seven different campuses (including externally). To borrow from the conference call for papers, this change demonstrates the way my institution fits the ‘dominant values of standardisation and emphasis on an audit-­‐based culture’. It is argued that autoethnography provides the power to tell how I have managed my career by (re)examining the detailed archival data collected by virtue of feeding the audit-­‐based culture. The (re)examination of the archive is used to offer the ‘principled exposure’ called for by Gilroy about how I re-­‐imagined the space/place of my ordinary, everyday scholarly activities by devising approaches resisting standardisation and strongly respecting standards. The archival evidence is used to challenge the sectoral rhetoric of how scholarship is recognised. Paradoxically, and embarrassingly, my subject expertise is auditing.