Part-time teaching staff as the focus of scholarly enquiry: tutors in Languages at the Open University, their backgrounds, attitudes, values and beliefs

"‘Part-time teaching staff as the focus of scholarly enquiry: tutors in Languages at the Open University, their backgrounds, attitudes, values and beliefs’

Uwe Baumann, Open University - Download slides here

The Open University’s teaching model is based around a large number of part-time teaching staff (‘Associate Lecturers’). In Languages alone about three hundred part-time staff are employed who play a crucial role as the first and main contact for the students, in delivering tutorials, marking assignments and providing individualized feedback to the students. Despite playing an important role in our teaching strategy there was a clear need perceived to find out more about our part-time colleagues.

This paper reports on an innovative scholarship project on Associate Lecturers in Languages which was the first of its kind in the faculty. The Languages programme at the Open University has traditionally not only taught the four skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening but also included in an integrated way area studies and intercultural competence. This focus on intercultural competence triggered the project which aimed to learn more about the

• Personal backgrounds and experiences of the Associate Lecturers

• Their professional experience and practice within the institution and outside the OU

• Their ideas and understanding of the concept of intercultural competence

• Their attitudes, values and beliefs which form the basis of intercultural competence

• Their practice with regard to teaching intercultural awareness and intercultural competence.

The study, undertaken by several colleagues in the Department of Languages, used a mixed methods approach, combining an online survey (n=292) with semi-structured interviews. The paper will highlight the main findings of this scholarship project and also show how it is going to impact on practice, staff development and the curriculum.