Establishing reward systems for excellence in teaching – the experience of academics pioneering a reward system
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEuropean Journal of Higher Education, 2023. 10.1080/21568235.2023.2214713
Higher education institutions are struggling to elevate the value and status of academic teaching. In this endeavour, rewards for excellence in teaching are becoming a common measure. This study reports on the experience of the first academic teachers who were given the status as rewarded teachers in new reward systems. We explore rewarded teachers’ potential to influence teaching and learning culture through a socio-cultural perspective, where influence is assumed to materialise through teachers’ networks and cultural change is linked to a widening of significant networks. Interviews with 13 rewarded teachers from three universities were analysed using thematic analysis. We find that rewarded teachers maintain their positions in existing networks and gain visibility and influence in wider networks. This widening of their teaching and learning network is a first step, that over time can become a wider significant network potentially important in influencing culture. We suggest that a productive measure to support rewarded teachers is to provide support for expanding their significant networks further, bridging the boundaries between teaching cultures. This study adds to our knowledge about how reward impacts networks, and the potential role rewarded teachers play in cultural change, a perspective that is underexplored in research on reward systems.