Exploring Teaching Conceptions and Practices: A Qualitative Study with Higher Education Teachers in Portugal

Studia paedagogica: Teaching and Learning in Higher Education


In recent decades, several international political guidelines have encouraged the reconfiguration of teachers’ ways of being and acting, specifically arguing for the rejection of the conception of a teacher who holds and transmits knowledge, with inevitable implications for pedagogical practices. Therefore, it is particularly relevant to gain an understanding of teachers’ conceptions and practices, exploring the extent to which they are reconfigured throughout training and professional development processes. With this general objective, a qualitative study is presented, drawing on the content analysis of written testimonies and individual portfolios produced by a group of 24 academics involved in a post-graduate degree course in higher education pedagogy at the University of Lisbon in the academic years 2019/20 and 2020/21. The results suggest a dominant professional conception, embedded in the artisanal paradigm and in line with a teaching conception based on the transmission of knowledge. However, there are signs that teachers challenge this vision of professionalism, revealing diverse conceptions about the profession as well as conceptions about teaching and learning aligned with different types of pedagogical orientation. The study also shows how formal pedagogical training might support changes in teachers’ conceptions about their profession and about the meaning of teaching and learning, with effects on teaching practices and on the quality of student learning.

Klíčová slova:
higher education; teaching professionalism; conceptions; beliefs; pedagogical orientation


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