Conceptions of Universities as Organizations and Change in Science and Mathematics Education


This chapter draws on my experience as a change agent in universities over three to four decades and is partly autobiographical. I appreciate the willingness of the Editors to allow me to write in such a reflective and discursive way. The chapter outlines a problem, posits some theoretical explanations but offers no concrete solution. The kind of comprehensive change in students' experience of university learning that I believe in seems hardly closer now than when I adopted it in its primitive form as my mission more than thirty years ago. Perhaps it appeared to be getting closer at times but more recent years have seen the dream fade. This chapter attempts to analyze why and to ponder whether such an outcome is inevitable. That self-centred portrayal of the problem will be balanced by further analysis using distributed leadership theory1. I want to emphasize that the change I am talking about is not concerned simply with the degree to which discussion of teaching and learning among stakeholders in university education has increased per se (it has increased considerably) but rather whether progressive changes have been made to the learning environment with consequential, beneficial effects on learning outcomes. There has been a lot of discussion in recent decades but the rhetoric has not always been matched by the outcomes. Also, the nature of the activities undertaken by graduates has become much broader, in some situations much less sophisticated, as universities become institutions of mass education, and in other situations more complex and demanding. In a sense the goal posts for university undergraduate education have shifted and it is no longer clear where they are standing. That has made the task of creating the ideal learning environment more difficult to envisage and design

If you continue with your reading of this chapter, doing so may catalyze your thinking and encourage you to reflect on whether the problem described is real and whether you have a way of solving it. My goal is that you, the reader, should use what I write to see if you and others can do in the future what, in the last few decades, my colleagues and I could not


Learning Environment Conceptual Change Curriculum Design Scientific Revolution Educational Development 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swinburne University of TechnologyMelbourneAustralia

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