#LTHEChat 265: ‘Professionals Teaching Professionals’ with Dr Claire Stocks @DrClaireStocks Dr Peter Alston @DrPeteAlston Professor Dawne Irving-Bell @belld17

image of professionals teaching professionals

Professionals Teaching Professionals

In this #LTHEchat, we want to explore the ways in which previous (or, indeed, concurrent) professional experience impacts on learning, teaching and/or scholarship in Higher Education. Whether that experience is as a barrister, fashion designer, police officer or purveyor of antiques and curiosities(!), professionals moving into HE have a huge amount to offer to the student learning experience, academic culture and the scholarship of teaching and learning.   

Our interest is partly based on the fact that we all currently work together in an institution that is wholly focused on ‘professionals teaching professionals’. But our collective experience in public universities also tells us that the relationship between HE and the professions has become increasingly intimate as higher education institutions seek to improve employability outcomes, increase ‘educational gain’ by aligning academic qualifications with professional recognition and qualifications, deliver effective apprenticeship and/or degree programmes, and prepare professionals of the future. 

In response to aligning academic qualifications with professional recognition and preparation, many universities employ ‘dual professionals’ (also called practitioner-academics, pracademics, and a range of other terms – see “What’s in a name? The rise of the practitioner academic and time to reconsider standardised induction support” for more on this). Nevertheless, our understanding of the range of potential benefits that these professionals bring to HE, and the challenges that they face as they move into academia from other contexts remains relatively limited, despite the argument that “career academics and pracademics need to perceive each other as equals to fully benefit from their shared skills, experience and knowledge pools” (Willis 2016, cited by Dickinson et al., 2020). Much of the literature on dual professionals has tended to focus on the experience of staff within specific professional fields such as policing (Willis, 2016), nursing and healthcare (Duffy, 2013 and Boyd and Smith 2016), accountancy (Lindsay, 2020) or management (Simendinger, 2000), although more recent work also starts to explore the range of potential benefits that dual professionals think they bring to their academic roles (Dickinson, 2020).

In our #LTHEChat we aim to build on Dickinson’s work and invite participants to consider how previous professional experience can be harnessed to positively impact HE contexts. We hope that the chat will give participants an opportunity to reflect on their own journey into and through HE, and a chance to consider how experience in other professional contexts can/should impact on learning, teaching, and scholarship. 

Following the chat, if you want to connect with a network of colleagues who are interested in supporting professionals who move in to HE, join the Supporting Professionals in(to)HE Network (SPiHE) by contacting Claire on Twitter (@DrClaireStocks) or at ClaireStocks@bpp.com

References and recommended reading

Boyd, P. & C. Smith (2016) “The contemporary academic: orientation towards research work and researcher identity of higher education lecturers in the health professions”, Studies in Higher Education, 41:4, 678-695.

Dickinson, J., A. Fowler and T. Griffiths (2020) “Pracademics? Exploring transitions and professional identities in higher education” Available from Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive (SHURA) at: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/25992/ (Accessed 12th May 2022)

Duffy, R. (2013) “Nurse to educator? Academic roles and the formation of personal academic identities” Nurse Education Today, 33:6, 620-4.

Kitchener, M. (2021) “What’s in a name? The rise of the practitioner academic and time to reconsider standardised induction support” BERA Blog. https://www.bera.ac.uk/blog/whats-in-a-name-the-rise-of-the-practitioner-academic-and-time-to-reconsider-standardised-induction-support  (Accessed 12th May 2022)

Lindsay, H. (2020) “From fledgling to fledged: how accountants in academia develop their research capabilities”, Accounting Education, 29:4, 409-430.

Simendinger, E., Puia, G.M., Kraft, K. and Jasperson, M. (2000), “The career transition from practitioner to academic”, Career Development International, 5:2, 106-111.

Willis, James J. (2016) “The Romance of Police Pracademics”. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice 10:3, 315-321


Dr. Claire Stocks is an Associate Professor of Educational Practice at BPP University. 

Claire’s background is in English and American Literature, and she has been an academic developer since finishing her PhD in 2005. She has presented and published work on American Literature and in relation to academic development, and she has worked in a range of universities including research-intensives, teaching-focused and currently in a private provider. She is particularly interested in how to support novice academics to become successful HE professionals, and in the pedagogy of professional Higher Education. She leads BPP University’s Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching, and the Headway CPD scheme. 

Claire has been a Senior Fellow of the HEA since 2016, and has recently convened a network for colleagues who are interested in supporting professionals who move into Higher Education.

Twitter: @DrClaireStocks LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/claire-stocks-a5230227

Pucture of Dr Claire Stocks

Dr. Peter Alston is an Associate Professor of Educational Practice and the Interim Dean of Education Services at BPP University. 

Peter has a background in information systems and web development/programming, and a PhD in eResearch & Technology Enhanced Learning. Previously, he was Director of Learning Solutions at Laureate Online Education with responsibility for cultivating relationships with partner institutions, and providing strategic vision and oversight for the design and development of academic programs. Prior to joining Laureate, Pete was a Lecturer (Learning Technology) in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Liverpool where he worked on the development of new ways of using learning technologies, social media and other web-based technologies within education. He also held a Senior Lecturer position in the Department of Computing at Edge Hill University, contributing to the teaching and project supervision on the Web Systems Development pathway, and serving as a Senior SOLSTICE Fellow, leading the development and impact of technology enhanced learning across the University.

Twitter: @DrPeteAlston LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/alstonp

Picture of Dr. Peter Alston

Dawne Irving-Bell, PhD, is a Professor of Learning and Teaching at BPP University. 

Dawne established The National Teaching Repository, a platform where colleagues can share interventions that lead to real improvements in teaching and learning in a way that secures recognition for their practice, making it citable, sharable, and discoverable. 

Dawne enjoys lecturing on visual thinking and advocates for technology and design education, for which she received a National Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to re-shaping Teacher Education. 

Dawne is a National Teaching Fellow (NTF), Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA) and proud recipient of a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE).

Twitter: @belld17 LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dawne-irving-bell/

Picture of Professor Dawne Irving-Bell

The Wakelet is available here: https://wakelet.com/wake/wgOcUn6tO8VRNXqSF_d-Z

This entry was posted in announcement. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s