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Learning from the educators' perspectives: a phenomenographic study of the lived experiences in learning of tertiary educators in Australia

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posted on 28.03.2022, 11:05 by Christine Chinchen
Modern researchers argue that the purpose of teaching is to create opportunities for learning. Yet, when asked for their observations about learning in professional contexts, tertiary educators in this study instead talked about teaching practices. In effect, in their professional context most educators implicitly equated learning with teaching. In contrast, when asked for observations of learning in a personal context, these educators focused on their insights about learning. Educator responses indicated that the most significant and powerful impactors observed in their own learning were not being leveraged within their professional practice. This was due to their perceived regulatory and institutional pressure to cover the curriculum instead of focusing on learning. Eighteen semi-structured, face-to-face interviews of approximately one hour were conducted with volunteer educators. These educators worked on accredited tertiary education programs offered in public and/or private institutions in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, or South Australia. Transcripts were analysed using phenomenographic iterative data analysis. This study breaks new phenomenographic ground in three significant areas. First, in revealing tertiary educators' markedly different observations regarding learning as educator, mentor, and learner. Second, in capturing tertiary educators' understandings of facilitating and inhibiting factors affecting learning. Third, in the study's novel grounding in the experiential world of the educators. The study also has implications for course design and educator development, if we are to evolve from lecturer-centred to learning-centred tertiary education. A broader finding is that learning at its core is a change process. Therefore the role of tertiary educators may be better conceived of as specialist learning leaders.


Table of Contents

1. Learning and tertiary educators -- 2. Context of the tertiary educator in Australia -- 3. Critical analysis of relevant learning literature -- 4. Design and theoretical underpinnings of this study -- 5. Tertiary educators' experiences of learning -- 6. Linking tertiary educators' experiences of learning to theory and context -- 7. Applying study outcomes to learning in tertiary education -- Glossary of terms -- Appendices.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 245-282

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Education

Department, Centre or School

Department of Education

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Mitchell Parsell

Additional Supervisor 1

Penny Van Bergen


Copyright Christine Chinchen 2019. Copyright disclaimer: http://mq.edu.au/library/copyright




1 online resource (viii, 282 pages)

Former Identifiers

mq:72070 http://hdl.handle.net/1959.14/1281081