Constructing the role of the law teacher in the changing context of higher education policy and practice

Gibby, Caroline (2018) Constructing the role of the law teacher in the changing context of higher education policy and practice. Doctoral thesis, NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY.

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In the UK, Higher education (HE) has become subject to greater scrutiny, from Government, students and employers alike. Pressures to improve academic practice through teacher education are often linked to improved economic stability of the Higher Education Institutions (HEI); this culture of economic Higher education has challenged traditional teacher roles. Where there are additional external pressures and quality assurance criteria to be met, the teacher is expected to possess relevant skills and knowledge to meet the changing expectations within HE. This study explores the tensions between HE and Legal education policy and practices and how they affect the construction of the law teacher role. Using a pragmatic, critical realist perspective, which recognises the interaction of structure, culture and agency (Archer, 1996) a mixed methods approach was used to explore changing teacher roles, types and engagement with teacher education drawing conclusions as to the opportunities to develop excellence in teaching. Data collection over a three-year period included 61 job descriptions and 15 semi-structured interviews. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics, deductive content analysis and a constant comparative method. Findings indicate that several factors were associated with the construction of the law teacher role. Data indicate that teaching and practice-focused legal experience were least likely to be sought, whereas networking and organisationally beneficial skills, such as management were preferred. Data from semi-structured interviews indicate that teachers felt let down by the HEI teacher education. Further, they felt that existing HEI practices did not provide relevant training, to support the development of excellence in academic and practice-focused teaching. Existing programmes of teacher development were described as ineffective, irrelevant and unsupported. This was particularly evident for part-time teachers, who were often those that delivered legal practice courses for students. At a time when quality assurance is an important feature of HE and the introduction of the TEF, this thesis suggests that HEIs are ill equipped to provide relevant disciplinary support to new law teachers. Therefore, improvement in quality and practice appears driven by individuals or collective groups of teachers, who will construct their own role within Legal education. To address this gap, this thesis puts forward practical recommendations to support change.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Education > Higher Education
Law > Law
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism
Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism > School of Law
Depositing User: Caroline Gibby
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2019 14:22
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2019 16:08
ORCID for Caroline Gibby: ORCID iD

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