Academic Practice is the term used to describe the unique combination of work undertaken by academics. McAlpine and Hopwood (2007) have suggested that it can be divided into three broad forms:
- Forms of inquiry: from scholarly examination of documents to empirical research – whether applied or pure, commissioned, individual or collaborative
- Forms of teaching: working with undergraduates, postgraduates and postdoctoral fellows in the broadest sense, e.g. planning of learning activities, assessment, supervision, advising and mentoring
- Forms of service: to the institution, the discipline, profession and larger community, e.g., chair/member of an institutional committee, organizer of a disciplinary conference, consultant for a business or charity.
However, separating the facets in this way, can be counter-productive and introduces the concept that the facets are in competition. The modern academic is increasingly expected to be professional in all three facets and this often brings the facets into conflict. It has long been recognised that impact in research is far easier to evidence than impact in teaching and this often skews the investment of effort towards research and away from teaching development.
However, there are clear synergies between the facets (e.g. the use of inquiry in developing teaching, the use of reseach in management decision making etc) and also core skills and behaviours, such as reflective practice, that underpin all three.
The world class teaching and research, that we aspire to at Aberystwyth, can only be achieved and sustained, if we recognise contributions in all three facets, and the Aberystwyth academic promotions scheme gives weight to all of the three facets of academic practice.
To develop a rounded and successful academic career, it is necessary to treat each of these facets with professionalism, to find changing balance in the degree to which each is emphasised at different stages of a career and to be constantly seeking the areas of common ground.
Teaching and Learning