Continuing professional learning of teachers: is this concept more valid for current higher education?

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Taylor, JA & Wilson, G 2011, 'Continuing professional learning of teachers: is this concept more valid for current higher education?', paper presented to Research and development in higher education: higher education on the edge: 34th HERDSA Annual International Conference. Gold Coast, Qld., 4-7 July.


Continuing professional learning is based on the notion that learning for professionals is continuing, active, social, and related to their practice. In designing CPL activities the focus is on the spirit of critical inquiry to enable professionals to gain insights into their own learning and their assumptions about their practice (Webster-Wright, 2010). In higher education CPL has all of these facets and is framed to support different stages of an academic’s career.

Traditionally universities primarily offer professional development for teaching which addresses the acquisition of the knowledge and skills founded on epistemological concerns. Strategies include teacher preparation programs for new academics and Graduate Certificates focused on learning and teaching in a university context. Less direct professional development strategies are also apparent. Distance education universities have always included facilitated educational design as a strategy to enhance practice, while the individual academic may informally choose a mentor to assist their development. Support for communities of practice and scholarship of teaching has gained momentum in recent times.

This roundtable offers an opportunity for participants to join with us to explore the challenges facing institutions and their staff if a professional learning standpoint is adopted. Questions include:

• Is a professional learning framework more appropriate than professional development models for teaching enhancement in the current higher education climate?

• What does the adoption of a CPL approach mean

o to the practices and ways of working of teaching and learning centres?

o to an academic within a department/faculty?

• What are the institutional requirements in terms of structures and resources to adopt and embed a professional learning framework?


Webster-Wright, A. (2010). Authentic professional learning. Making a difference through learning at work. Dordrecht: Springer.