Transdisciplinary or Pedagogically Distinct? Disciplinary Considerations for Teaching Certificates in Higher Education

Erika E. Smith
Mount Royal University

Heather Kanuka
University of Alberta

This research provides an analysis of disciplines and disciplinary differences regarding the pedagogical value and content of post-graduate teaching certificates in higher education. Findings and recommendations are based upon a survey (N = 450) of department heads and doctoral students at Canadian research-focused universities. Participants were surveyed regarding their perceptions of the value of a credentialed teaching certificate for new academics seeking employment, as well as whether they believe the pedagogical knowledge and skills that typically comprise teaching certificates are valuable. Examining whether a strongly held disciplinary identity in more senior academics contributes to these differences, the survey results demonstrate significant differences between disciplines for the overall value and, in some areas, the content of teaching certificates, especially in department head responses. Relatedly, the open-ended survey comments show a deeply ingrained disciplinary identity, particularly for those holding the department head roles, which in turn reflected several participants’ perceptions of disciplinary teaching and learning knowledge and skills as holding superior value to generic, transdisciplinary programs. Recommendations include a renewed focus in educational development initiatives on linking transdisciplinary approaches to specific disciplinary contexts, further connecting overarching pedagogical theories to pedagogical content knowledge as it is translated in practice.

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