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Conference highlights learning cultures, significant networks and the impact of meaningful conversations

Katarina Mårtensson from Lund University shares thoughts on the impact of academic microcultures and support for teaching and learning
April 24, 2017
TI Forum, Katarina Mårtensson

The 2017 University of Calgary Conference on Postsecondary Learning and Teaching will be hosted by the Taylor Institute of Teaching and Learning. The TI Forum's retractable seating will be used in both lecture theatre and active learning (shown here) formats. 

The 2017 University of Calgary Conference on Postsecondary Learning and Teaching, Creating a Learning Culture: Conversations that Matter will be hosted by the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning from May 2 to 3.

At the conference, participants will discover how these meaningful conversations between instructors, colleagues and students create opportunities for teaching development and improve our understanding of student learning.

“This annual conference provides an important opportunity for instructors from across disciplines to step back, reflect upon and share knowledge related to the scholarship and practice of teaching and learning,” says Natasha Kenny, director of the Taylor Institute’s Educational Development Unit. “The conversations that occur between participants help to inspire new ways of thinking about our teaching and learning approaches. Most importantly, the connections that are built through networking and knowledge sharing contribute to a strong and sustained culture for teaching and learning." 

Event aims to ignite conversations about teaching and learning cultures across campus

Academic developer and researcher, Katarina Mårtensson from Lund University, Sweden will draw from her considerable body of research on social networks, academic microcultures and academic leadership to develop her keynote presentation, Who Do You Talk To? Significant Conversations in Campus Microcultures.

“An academic microculture is a group of people who work together in an academic setting such as a faculty, department, unit or program,” she explains. “Over time they develop habits that guide their practice, their interactions, how they talk to each other, how they work together. If we are going to understand our organizations in terms of teaching and support for student learning, we need to understand more about how their norms, traditions and values are developed over time.”

Mårtensson’s research has played a significant role in the development of the vision of the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. According to her, “One of the starting points for teaching support are the workshops and programs for instructors and faculty members on campus. We’ve quickly realized that the effects of those initiatives depend largely on the collegial context that the individual works in. They might be very inspired after taking a course or workshop and go back and try new things. However, the academic microculture will, in some sense, decide if any kind of support for the development of teaching and learning will have effect or not.”  

Within an academic microculture, people tend to have a few colleagues with whom they have meaningful conversations — or conversations that matter. “They would be the colleagues you turn to after having a difficult class to say, I had a class today that didn’t go that well. I don’t know what went wrong but here’s the description of my perception of the situation and what went wrong,” says Mårtensson.  

It is these types of meaningful conversations, or in Mårtensson’s words, “a significant conversation” about teaching that are “trustful, emotionally safe and intellectually intriguing — they challenge your thinking in a way that makes you develop.”

Sessions will focus on the impact of significant conversations between instructors, colleagues and students

Building upon those already existing networks of instructors and creating opportunities for supportive conversations about teaching and learning reflects one of the core mandates of the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.

The University of Calgary Conference on Postsecondary Learning and Teaching provides such an opportunity for academic staff, staff, students and postdoctoral scholars to share, critically examine and build on their collective knowledge of teaching and learning.

Participants are encouraged to step outside of their academic microcultures that are defined by faculty, department, unit or program, and connect with individuals from across campus that look for opportunities — both large and small — to improve their teaching and enrich student learning.

In addition to Mårtesson’s keynote, the conference will feature an opening plenary led by associate deans teaching and learning, Dawn Johnston, Jennifer Lock and Leslie Reid, titled Significant Networks: Making Space for Support and Productive Discomfort in our Teaching Practice.

Seventy-two sessions including workshops, community cafés, ignite sessions and digital poster presentations are scheduled over the course of two full days from May 2 to 3. See the complete program and schedule of presenters.

Presenters will have the opportunity to publish their papers in the open-access, peer-reviewed publication Papers on Postsecondary Learning and Teaching — a joint initiative from the Taylor Institute from Teaching and Learning and Libraries and Cultural Resources — that was launched in December 2016.  

The deadline to register is April 25, 2017.

Register here

View full conference details here

For a complete Q&A with Katarina Mårtensson, visit TI Connections.