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ICED Conference 2012 Bangkok Across the Globe Higher Education Learning and Teaching. Bridging the Gap. Faculty perceptions of institutional support and recognition for university – community engagement through the curriculum, and implications for organisational and faculty development.

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Bridging the Gap. Faculty perceptions of institutional support and recognition for university – community engagement through the curriculum, and implications for organisational and faculty development.

Presentation by

Professor Lindsey McEwen, Environmental Management,

University of West Of England, UK and Professor Kristine Mason O’Connor, Learning and Teaching Innovation, University of Gloucestershire, UK

who are we
Who are we…..?

Lindsey – formerly Director of the Pedagogic Research and Scholarship Institute UoG; now Professor, Environmental Management, UWE Research in community engagement – both pedagogic and subject-based research

  • Kristine – Emeritus Professor Higher Education Development UoG, UK formerly Dean of Learning and Teaching Development background in sociology of education;
  • Joint interest in community-engagement; supporting staff in different approaches to learning e.g. WBL, interdisciplinary learning
current work
Current work ….
  • Mason O’Connor, K., McEwen, L. J. , Owen, D., Lynch, K., and Hill, S. (2011) Literature review: embedding community engagement in the curriculum: an example of university-public engagement. Report for NCCPE, Bristol.
  • Mason O’Connor, K. and McEwen, L.J. (forthcoming) Developing Community Engagement. SEDA. (Chapter on staff attributes, quality assurance and building staff capacity; five institutional case-study approaches to community based learning)
the session
The session
  • Benefits to student learning and employability of community based learning (CBL).
  • International literature review of CBL:

calls for universities to engage with their communities; lack of recognition and support for staff/faculty involvement.

  • International survey - key findings:

mismatch between rhetoric and reality;

barriers to staff/faculty involvement;

facilitators of staff/faculty involvement.

  • Participant discussion and good practice
benefits of cbl to student learning and employability
Benefits of CBL to student learning and employability
  • Experiential
  • Reflection
  • Flexibility, adaptability, initiative
  • Problem based
  • Team work
  • Questions assumptions
  • Links theory to practice
  • Civic awareness
international literature review mason o connor et al 2011
International Literature Review(Mason O’Connor, et al., 2011)

Two gaps:

  • supporting staff / staff attributes
  • strong focus on community engagement and research; less on community engagement and teaching
pilot international e survey mcewen and mason o connor report forthcoming
Pilot international e-survey (McEwen and Mason O’Connor, report forthcoming)
  • Institutional recognition and support for university staff/faculty involvement in university-public/community engagement
    • version 1: staff /faculty active in engagement
    • version 2: staff /faculty not active in engagement
institutional survey results
Institutional survey: results
  • E-survey sent around national and international networks (Nov11-Jan12)
  • 103 responses – active in CE ; 36 responses inactive in CE
  • Active in community engagement
    • male 47.6% female 52.4%
    • have interdisciplinary expertise 91.3%
q is university public community engagement included as part of your recognised workload duties
Q: Is University-public/community engagement included as part of your recognised workload/duties?


Q: Does your institution offer staff support/ development specifically for University-public/community engagement activity?


  • ‘Central community engagement team/unit’
  • ‘But mostly only for business engagement’
  • ‘Informal, we should provide training but there\'s not enough time to do that as well as meet demand of role’
barriers to community engagement
Barriers to community engagement
  • Lack of leadership, strategic direction and coordination
  • Workload, lack of time, other demands and priorities such as research
  • Large teaching loads
  • Bureaucratic procedures and non-facilitative structures
  • Perceived lack of value in relation to tenure and promotion
  • Colleagues seeing it as ‘lightweight’ and not as a worthwhile method of teaching
  • Not generating income
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Acknowledgement in terms of promotion and recognised career pathways
  • Time allowed in the allocation of academic duties
  • Access to funding opportunities
  • Institutions to establish networking opportunities for collaboration and mentoring
  • Establishing information databases of engagement activities
  • Multimedia support
  • Developing a website of activities
  • Staff development (workshops, seminars, conferences) to provide opportunities for sharing and training in a range of areas including: pedagogy of community engagement; methods to monitor and evaluate impact and effectiveness; staff awareness of issues relating to communities; gaining access to funding; working with external agencies.
bridging the gap
Bridging the gap
  • Implications for organisational and staff/faculty development
Bridging the gap – link strategic commitment with facilitating mechanisms for community engagement activity
  • ‘espoused, but not fully engaged with.’
  • ‘limited commitment to meaningful action – “encourage” is a typical verb.’
  • ‘university level as a high level, abstract goal in our strategic plan.’
bridging the gap combine top down and bottom up approaches
Bridging the gap: combine ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ approaches
  • ‘Alignments of strategic objectives regarding community engagement with KPIs. Promotion, funding models.’
  • ‘University needs to be flexible enough to let staff run with good ideas and see how it develops.’
bridging the gap recognise support and reward community engagement
Bridging the gap: Recognise, support and reward community engagement

‘Recognising the specific skill set required to broker successful relationships and engage with the community. Recognise the value of community engagement and how it can enhance the profile of the university. Provide opportunities for sharing networks so other areas can benefit.’

initial conclusions
Initial conclusions
  • Link strategic commitment with community engagement activity
  • Combine ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ approaches
  • Recognise, support and reward community engagement
  • Establish coherent institutional staff development/ support (building on good practice elsewhere)
initial conclusions cont
Initial conclusions (cont.)
  • Identify community engagement in work load to address issue of ‘time
  • Create coherent opportunities to share experiences
  • Draw on the enthusiasm of staff for community engagement and inform them of opportunities
To add to our international survey on institutional support and recognition for staff involvement in community engagement:
  • To contribute a case-study to the Communiversity project email:
  • Project website address: