Advancing Practice In Academic Development: Chapter 4 Supporting continuing professional development (CPD) for lecturers


Edited by David Baume and Celia Popovic
Routledge – The Staff and Educational Development Series
Publication January 2016

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Chapter summaries and extracts will on the SEDA Blog over the coming months. (There may be small differences between these and the published versions)

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Chapter 4 – Supporting continuing professional development (CPD) for lecturers

Ruth Pilkington


This chapter explores challenges and solutions for academic development when supporting the continuing professional development (CPD) of lecturers and teachers. This is important, as broader participation, marketisation and consumerist expectations are changing the nature of HE te ching and learning practice and environments. The chapter comprises three sections:

  1. Why the lecturing role is a particular focus for academic development
  2. Selected models and theory influencing lecturers’ CPD
  3. Options and approaches for CPD introduced by institutions and by academic developers

The chapter uses examples and relates theory and practice throughout. It encourages developers to consider implications for their future practice.

Some extracts

CPD is here taken to mean development that encompasses all aspects of academic and educational work associated with the lecturer role. The complexity of lecturing is increasing, leading to greater diversity of career and activities associated with lecturing. This diversity is causing an increase in the CPD needs for lecturers, and is thus making greater demands on the capabilities of academic developers. As well as a personal and professional development activity that should be undertaken purposefully by individual lecturers, CPD is increasingly an organisational priority.


The UK Professional Standards Framework has further influenced the landscape of lecturers’ CPD since its revision in 2011. Four Descriptors now differentiate roles and relationships for teaching and learning, accompanied by a drive to accredit institutions’ CPD frameworks for awarding and recognising professional status in teaching and learning.


Ideally, as Peters suggests (2009), CPD for lecturers should unify academic development provision; personal and professional development review; probation, acclimatisation and mentoring to address needs across career paths; and reward. This suggests a holistic approach, with stronger communication between HR systems and how CPD is conceived from the lecturer and academic developer perspective. CPD from the academic developer standpoint consequently becomes a complex activity, undertaken as part of a broader set of organizational priorities and processes.


One of the benefits of benchmarks is that they encourage debate on how to frame careers, and therefore direct CPD processes. It is well accepted that quality in teaching for HE is a complex concept, as explored in Chapter 9 on QA and QE. The concept of quality incorporates discussion of, and potentially defining,

what contributes to good teaching and ‘excellence’ (Skelton, 2005, 2007; Gunn and Fisk, 2013). This in turn is shaped by subject interests. The debate on CPD however is shaped by dialectic between three groups:

  • The national or professional body;
  • The HE institution and its priorities and vision of what teaching and learning should be; and
  • The individual’s own position and perspective.


Experience and evidence-based research have established a body of knowledge amongst academic developers concerning the best way to support lecturers’ CPD. However, a challenge for academic developers remains in how they influence systems and processes effectively to build in the space and time for peer-supported dialogue and for learning to occur around practice. From an organisational perspective, another challenge is the overlap between academic development and HR management and how their respective reporting systems may be made compatible to record progress and show achievements. Further tensions may be caused by the shift in the nature of HE, leading to a growth in managerialism, emphasis on productivity, and rationalised delivery with shorter development cycles for curricula, producing pressures upon the established cycle of the academic year. …  The most frequently cited hurdles to development activity are pleas about lack of time or excessive workload by lecturers, or the desire to balance research with teaching and assessing students.

About the Editors

David Baume is an independent international higher education researcher, evaluator, consultant, staff and educational developer and writer.

Celia Popovic is Director of Teaching Commons at York University, Toronto, Canada.

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