Högskolelärares personliga teorier om sin pedagogiska praktik

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


In this study university teachers? personal theories of their pedagogical practice in basic courses in undergraduate education are described and analyzed. According to for example Polanyi (1958) and Bourdieu (1990) university teachers have developed a personal practical theory as participators in an academic social context, first as students then as teachers. This can be seen as their ?pedagogy? according to Durkheim (1956), a practical theory that guides their actions as teachers; a way of perceiving and thinking about teaching and learning.

Different theoretical perspectives such as Engeströms (1999) ?activity theory?, Dahllöfs (1999) ?frame factor theory?, Luhmanns (1995) ?social systems theory? and Biggs (2003) systems perspective on teaching and learning in higher education can be subsumed under a complex general systems theory that points to several possible components that relate to each other in a dynamic and self organizing way. Such autopoietic systems are characterized by both stability and change and are applicable on teachers? thinking as well as their action and the educational system itself.

Empirical data consist of semi-structured interviews with nine university lecturers at the University of Lund and ten lecturers at the University College of Växjö in southern Sweden representing academic disciplines such as history, economic history, law, economics, statistics, Scandinavian languages, comparative literature and political science. The personal theories generated from these data are what Argyris and Schön (1974) call ?espoused theories?, which in this study are validated against observations from the teachers? lectures and group interviews with the teachers? students.

The results show that a majority of the university teachers do not seem to pay much attention to their pedagogy which mostly seems to be tacit and natural to them. Only a few teachers problematise their pedagogical practice and find pedagogical competence development valuable.

Common themes in all teachers? personal theories deal with the importance of good content knowledge and personal commitment in the subject as well as the students as a ground for good teaching. They adhere to traditional academic values, at least in courses at higher levels than the basic courses. The teachers? primary intentions for their students? learning in basic courses are facts about different perspectives and theories in their subject, which they mean are useable in different professions. The teachers see their subject as complex and interesting to all people that facts in themselves evoke interests and feelings for it. They see themselves as experts in the subject and their teaching style is content-centered.

Different themes in the teachers? complex personal theories of their pedagogical practice are summarized metaphorically in terms of different teaching styles as the preacher, the presenter, the entertainer, the illuminator and the director. The preacher is common to all teachers and the four others are variants of this style. The role of the students is that of reproducing facts for the presenter and the entertainer, and that of reconstruction knowledge for the illuminator and the director.

The results are in line with other studies, with the main difference being the lack of student-centered approach in this study


  • Solbritt Schyberg
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Educational Sciences


  • university teachers? thinking, undergraduate education, teaching and learning, tacit knowledge, systems theory, student-centeredeness, practical knowledge, personal knowledge, Higher education, pedagogical competence, Pedagogy and didactics
Translated title of the contributionUniversity teachers' personal theories of their pedagogical practice
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • Löfgren, Horst, Supervisor, External person
Award date2007 Nov 9
  • Malmö högskola
Print ISBNs978-91-976537-9-4
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2007-11-09 Time: 13:15 Place: Sal D 138 på Lärarutbildningen i Malmö, Nordenskiöldsgatan 10. External reviewer(s) Name: Handal, Gunnar Title: Professor emeritus Affiliation: Oslo universitet ---