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Type: Conference paper
Title: Research Development: Adopting a Partnership Model
Author: Naidoo, K.
Citation: HERDSA 2001 Conference - Learning Partnerships 24th Annual Conference, 8-11 July, 2001
Issue Date: 2001
Conference Name: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Conference (24th : 2001 : Newcastle NSW Australia)
Abstract: Universities are fundamentally still academic communities as opposed to being corporations. The core processes that are fundamental to creating and sustaining communities according to Bryan Smith (Senge, Ross, Smith, Roberts, & Kleiner, 1994) enhance capability, commitment, contribution, continuity, collaboration and conscience. These processes underpin the principles and practice of a research skills development program at a large multi-modal, multi-campus university. With increasing emphasis on the need for staff to undertake research and student growth in post-graduate study programs it is crucial to provide staff with opportunities to enhance their skills both to undertake and supervise research. There are several tensions at tertiary education institutions currently, viz. increasing workloads and accountability, decreasing growth in some programs and increasing post-graduate registration, financial cutbacks in government subsidies, staff reductions as a result of institutional restructuring resulting in conflict and competition among staff, among others. This has resulted in increasing demands being made on staff time. They are expected to 'do more with less', that is, being responsible for teaching more students, undertaking research and engaging in professional development. An attempt is made in this paper to describe a learning partnership model adopted to develop and enhance research expertise thereby sustaining a collegial, academic community. The staff development unit plays a dual role of acting as catalyst to initiate and sustain learning partnerships as well as furthering the aim of collegiality, viz. sharing best practice. This is achieved by harnessing the expertise of senior experienced staff in the planning and delivery of training sessions. The training is designed to give all staff participating the opportunity to share their ideas, experience and expertise. Maintaining the balance between being 'instructive' and 'constructive' is the ultimate challenge facing the Unit, viz. of being catalyst in the learning partnership relationship. The Research Skills Certificate, an example of a partnership initiative launched at the beginning of 2001 provides staff with the incentive and reward to engage in professional development activities despite time and other pressures. Staff members attend the training sessions for a variety of reasons that range from being personal interests to institutional requirements. Obtaining a Certificate provides staff with the incentive to attend generic research management skills training required to undertake successful research which varies from general consciousness raising in terms of policy and guidelines, writing good proposals for research and funding, being able to supervise student research, to writing for publication, among other skills. Other learning partnerships facilitated by the staff development unit include both departmental and individual consultations. Finally, in the light of under-resourced and -staffed development units generally, analysing, showcasing and documenting the practice of one university provide the opportunity for extending partnerships between and among staff development units. There would be sharing of expertise and resources across units that would avoid re-inventing the wheel each time. In conclusion, the extent to which the adoption of a learning partnership model is effective is summed up. If learning partnerships work within institutions, why shouldn't they work across institutions in higher education?
RMID: 0020082969
Appears in Collections:Adelaide Graduate Centre publications

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