Giedre Kligyte

PhD candidate

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Keywords

higher education, academic practice, academic work, academic ethics, collegiality



Research project description

THE ROLE OF COLLEGIALITY IN ACADEMIC WORK

1. Background and aim of the study

The idea of collegiality forms an intrinsic part of academic work and ethos. Collegiality surfaces in various academic practices, such as collective pursuit of discipline knowledge, teaching, mentoring, and service to the academic and wider community, as well as in the mode of governance in academia. The idea of collegiality tends to be discussed in the higher education literature as a value that is necessarily good and relevant to everyone in any academic context or as an ideal state of harmony of the past, although a deeper exploration of the literature reveals that collegiality is not a singular notion, and that it itself is fraught with tensions. For example, collegiality can be seen as an inherently exclusive and elitist formation (Petro, 1990; Waters, 1989), as opposed to an inclusive and harmonious idealised view.

Collegiality is frequently discussed in oppositional terms to managerialism in universities (see Rowland 2008; Nixon, 2004), where new managerial practices are seen as destructive and detrimental to collegial values and academic work as it is traditionally conceived. This relationship is frequently construed as a simple dichotomy between collegiality (good) and managerialism (evil) - us and them. Paradoxically, despite the rise of neo-liberalism in universities, several recent studies found collegiality to be one of the most pervasive beliefs about the nature of academic work espoused by those working in academia (Archer, 2008; Spiller, 2010). This indicates that collegiality plays a complex and not-well-understood role in shaping academics’ beliefs about academic work.

 While the shift to managerialism in higher education is extraordinarily well documented in higher education literature, the depiction of collegiality lacks depth. The different ways collegiality might be experienced, remembered and expressed in academia, as well as the tensions around it are largely unexplored. No published in-depth studies explicitly focusing on collegiality and exploring the complex meanings, understandings, beliefs, tensions and desires related to collegiality in academia were found in the literature search. None of the studies around collegiality identified from the literature delve deeper to critically explore the collegiality discourse, for instance, to investigate how collegiality is construed, lived and practiced by academics today; how these beliefs and practices are shaped; and why it retains such an inexplicable significance to academics despite considerable changes in universities in recent years. This study aims to critically explore and theorise the role of collegiality in order to address this gap in the literature.

2. Research approach

The beliefs around collegiality appear to be reproduced through tacit and implicit practices and through nostalgic narratives of the lost harmony within academia, which seem to do more with the realm of imaginary, mythical and fantasmatic rather than with the practical, actual and real. Instead of viewing collegiality as a self-evident and unproblematic fundamental value this study will consider collegiality as an idea in flux, a notion without a fixed meaning. The idea of collegiality will be explored by drawing from psychoanalytic theory (Lacanian theory in particular) and the post-structuralist analytic framework of political and social theory developed by Glynos and Howarth (2007), which will allow the researchers to explore the affective and symbolic dimensions of academic work.

The study will address these research questions:

  1. How does the idea of collegiality influence and shape our understanding of academic work?
  2. What can academics’ collective ideas around collegiality tell us about the way our understanding of academic work is construed and maintained?

The study will borrow from memory work methodology, and will employ a 2-phase approach. In phase 1 data will be collected through an online website, which will enable research participants (academics) to share their memories around collegiality (submit their own stories and read the stories already collected). In phase 2 a smaller group of participants will be invited to participate in memory work, which will entail 3 rounds of reflexive conversations via a group teleconference around their own memories, as well as stories contributed to the website. The similarities and differences within stories will be collectively discussed, focusing on clichés, generalisations and metaphors, as well as discontinuities, inconsistencies and silences in the stories. This process will generate rich data for further analysis.

In phase 1 the invitation to share memories on collegiality through the website will be distributed through international and Australasian cross-disciplinary mailing lists, such as HERDSA (Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia), SEDA (Staff and Educational Development Association, Tomorrow’s professor, AAUP (American Association of University Professors), and through selected disciplinary and academic professional associations mailing lists. In phase 2 a smaller group of participants, who will agree to participate in further research (and give their contact information in phase 1) will be invited, firstly, to elaborate and expand their initial stories into more detailed memory narratives individually, and, secondly, to participate in several rounds of reflexive conversations (memory work) via a group teleconference. 

3. Significance of the research

This study will contribute to our understanding of the significance of collegiality to academic work, as well as contribute to the scholarly discussion about the impact of changes in higher education and professionalisation of academic work more broadly. Additionally, the study will challenge the commonsensical views of collegiality and add a critical dimension to our understanding of how the ‘spirit’ of academic work is maintained. Finally, by theorising collegiality as a complex multifaceted phenomena that links to academics’ unconscious beliefs and desires, this study will contribute to the literature on collegiality and academic ethics, thereby challenging simplistic and rationalistic enlightenment ideas that are too common in higher education literature.

Previous conference presentations

  • Botero, A., Kligyte, G. (2004). Understanding community practices through prototyping. InProceedings of PDC 2004 the Participatory Design Conference "Artful Integration: Interweaving Media, Materials and Practices". Toronto, Canada, July 27 -31, 2004.
  • Kligyte, G., Leinonen T., Shceible, J. (2004). Video prototyping. A Concept for Mzig Situated and Collaborative Mobile Learning. In PDC 2004 the Participatory Design Conference "Artful Integration: Interweaving Media, Materials and Practices". Toronto, Canada, July 27 -31, 2004.
  • Leinonen, T., Virtanen, O., Hakkarainen, K., Kligyte, G. (2002). Collaborative Discovering of Key Ideas in Knowledge Building. In Computer Support for Collaborative Learning 2002 Conference. Boulder, Colorado, USA, January 7-11, 2002.
  • Leinonen, T., Kligyte. G. (2002). Future Learning Environment for Collaborative Knowledge Building and Design. In DYD02 - Development by Design: 2nd International Conference on Open Collaborative Design of Sustainable Innovation. Bangalore, India, December 1-2.



Selected publications

Journal articles

  • Kligyte, G. (2011). Transformation Narratives in Academic Practice. International Journal for Academic Development, 16(3), 201–213.

Conference papers

Other

  • Kligyte, G. (2011). Teaching, learning and research in higher education: A critical approach, by Mark Tennant, Cathi McMullen and Dan Kaczynski. Book review. Studies in Higher Education, 36(5), 617-618..