Catching up on my reading of Trigwell and Prosser et al. (1996, 1999, 2000)

There is a whole body of “historical” research by Trigwell and Prosser and co-authors that I’ve successfully ignored until now, but that is being referenced in conversations around me so much that I cannot longer ignore it. So I read a couple of articles that — I hope — give me a good overview over their body of work, which I’ll summarise here.

In the 1996 article, Trigwell and Prosser investigate how intentions and teaching strategies are related. A lot of the effort towards improving education was (still is?) focussed on teaching teachers good strategies, but how successful can that be in itself? They develop an instrument (the “Approaches to Teaching Inventory”) to measure both teachers’ intentions and strategies. They identify five different typical profiles, and find that intentions around conceptual change are associated with student-focussed teaching strategies, while teacher-focussed strategies go hand in hand with a focus on transmission of content. However, both intentions and strategies depend on context, so it is not teacher profiles, but types of approaches to teaching, where teachers might be adopting different ones depending on the situation. The authors conclude that academic development needs to address intentions as well as strategies in order to change teaching practice.

Then, in 1999, Trigwell, Prosser and Waterhouse use the Approaches to Teaching Inventory to study how teaching approaches and learning approaches are related, since they know that teacher intentions influence teaching strategies, and that approaches to learning influence the quality of the learning. They find that transmission-focussed teaching likely leads to surface learning, and student-focussed teaching that aims at changing student conceptions is more likely to lead to a deep approach to learning. This leads them to recommend, in order to ultimately improve student learning, to focus of academic development efforts on teaching intentions, not just strategies.

After teaching has previously been looked at in isolation, Trigwell et al. (2000) now look at Scholarship of Teaching as one of four elements of academic work, and create a multi-dimensional model of what Scholarship of Teaching means. Dimensions are “informed” (from being informed by informal theories, over by literature, towards by own action research), “reflection” (from none to asking research questions to improve teaching), “communication” (from informal water cooler chats to international publications), and “conception” (from teacher-focused to learner-focused). Models like this can be used to structure training program (as was done in the article).

From then on, the articles seem to become more student- and generally relationship-focussed, looking at student and teacher emotions and academic development and leadership. But now that I’ve caught up to almost 20 years ago, the newer works will have to wait for a future post!

Trigwell, K., & Prosser, M. (1996). Congruence between intention and strategy in university science teachers’ approaches to teaching. Higher education, 32(1), 77-87.

Trigwell, K., Prosser, M., & Waterhouse, F. (1999). Relations between teachers’ approaches to teaching and students’ approaches to learning. Higher education, 37(1), 57-70.

Trigwell, K., Martin, E., Benjamin, J., & Prosser, M. (2000). Scholarship of teaching: A model. Higher education research & development, 19(2), 155-168.

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