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Organizational Context in Teaching in Higher Education
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the organizational factors which influence the teaching-learning processes in universities and colleges. Previous research on teaching and learning in higher education has mainly been concerned with curriculum and teaching methods. Here a new approach is proposed, which aims to analyze how and in what conditions teaching and curriculum are influenced by the higher education system and its environments.
This paper is divided into three major parts. In the first part, several organizational characteristics of the higher education system are discussed. The second part is concerned with how and in what conditions teachers and students are rewarded and controlled as well as how and in what conditions enterprises are controlled. The third part deals with how various types of knowledge contents influence the teaching and curriculum in higher education.
In the present paper, concepts such as loosely-coupled systems, decentralized authority structure, bundle of functions and vulnerability to environmental factors are discussed.
Levels of coordination of higher education systems are divided into the enterprise level, system level and external level. At the enterprise level, the educational reward system for the faculty is weak and limited within each enterprise, compared with research activity. Student motivation is influenced by external environments, such as the appointment policy of employers as well as cultural subgroups within society.
Educational activity is controlled by bureaucratic structures. Collegiate authorities, inter-institutional groups, learned societies, legal regulations and bureaucratic systems control the educational process, especially curriculum. Also the external environments i.e. appointment policies of employers and professional examinations control education. In this way various factors influence teaching and learning in higher education. Optimal equilibrium of the interests of these various groups is not always found.
Differences in the knowledge to be taught determines the way of teaching, characteristics of textbooks and curriculum sequence etc.. We have developed a new typology of the relation between teaching and learning; pure science model, humanities model and applied-professional model. Different ways of teaching and learning are discussed according to the 3 types of knowledge.
In the pure science model, high consensus in knowledge content results in low coordination in teaching content, as well as standardization and modulation of curriculum. In this model teaching output is determined by teaching skill. In the humanities model, low consensus of knowledge results in high coordiantion of teaching content, however, fragmentation of faculty authority hampers coordination of teaching content. Not only how to teach but also what to teach must be determined by each faculty member. In the applied-professional model, teaching content comes from both theoretical systems and also from technical systems, with professional qualifying examinations and legal regulations influencing the curriculum structure. The academic orientation of the faculty causes "functional equivalence", as shown in the spontaneous formation of student groups attempting to prepare themselves for professional examinations.