Pedagogical competence development programs: tensions and challenges to meaningful participation
Keywords:pedagogical competence development program, educational development, higher education teaching, critical reflection, transformative learning theory
Pedagogical competence development programs are gaining traction in the world of higher education teaching. In 2016, the Norwegian government issued a white paper calling for a “culture for quality” in higher education teaching. In line with earlier developments in other Scandinavian countries, the white paper proposes mandatory pedagogical competence development programs for university teachers as a new responsibility for the Norwegian universities – with new challenges for the institutions. In this article we, therefore, explore how participants in one of the new mandatory competence development programs experience tensions that challenge meaningful participation. Based on a qualitative analysis of 9 semi-structured interviews with participants, we identify three tensions: 1) between reflection and application, 2) between research and teaching, and 3) between demands and workloads. The vision of this program is a critically reflective approach to teaching. In the analysis we found that these tensions potentially halt this process. To discuss how this can challenge pedagogical competence development in higher education more generally, we employ the theoretical perspective of critical reflection, integrated with dialogue, praxis, and discourses on teaching.