Positioning through epistemic cognition in higher education: conceptualising the ways in which academics in a business school view heutagogy

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Teaching and learning in Higher Education is informed by a multitude of conditioning factors, not least the values systems and outlook of academics. Understanding the epistemological positioning taken by academics in relation to teaching and learning is therefore important if we are to make judgments about how we educate now, and could do so in the future. Developments in educational theory and digital technology have opened-up new possibilities for the ways in which students learn, and to a degree this has been accelerated by the responses from universities to the Covid-19 pandemic. How then should we conceive the future? Heutagogy is one of a number of theoretical approaches that has attracted interest from those who wish to see greater student control over the learning journey- but how widespread is this view amongst academics? This paper reports on a qualitative study in which 12 academics in an English Business School were asked to describe their views on teaching and learning, which we can encapsulate through the concept of epistemic cognition. The findings infer that there is little epistemological underpinning for heutagogy and that if academics are going to innovate, then additional resource and professional development should be put in place to support epistemic reflexivity, and a shift in their epistemological positioning. The paper conceptualises academics’ positioning through a typology of epistemic views.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)991-1007
Number of pages17
JournalHigher Education
Issue number4
Early online date13 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024

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