Dransfield, Mark (2021) ‘If you could define it, it would probably cease to be what it is supposed to be.’: A theoretical model of inspiring learning and teaching in UK Higher Education. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The word ‘inspiring’ or derivatives are often used in relation to learning and teaching in Higher Education in the UK, yet as a concept it is not well defined. Furthermore, where the phenomenon of inspiring learning and teaching is explored, it is often done so from a single perspective, for example as experienced by staff or students. Adopting a phenomenological position using interviews and focus groups, this research explored a multi-stakeholder perspective of the phenomenon of inspiring learning and teaching. Focusing on early career academics (ECAs), the research identified how academic development might better support ECAs to achieve institutionally strategic notions of inspiring learning and teaching. Using template analysis, a theoretical model of inspiring learning and teaching was developed, showing that it is both a multi-faceted and multi-lateral phenomenon, requiring authentic engagement from staff, students and institutions in order for it to occur. In addition, the research argues that ECAs should reconceptualise their role as ‘architects of learning experiences’, positioning the emphasis on being good inspirers of learning, rather than inspirational teachers. Seven recommendations are made to support institutions wishing to offer inspiring learning and teaching experiences.

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