Values-based university teaching: talking the talk but are we walking the walk?

Di Cantali (Lead / Corresponding author), Tracey Colville, Martin E Purcell

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This research sought to explore the role of values in professional qualifying courses taught within a School of Education and Social Work (including Childhood Practice, Community Education, Educational Psychology, Initial Teacher Education and Social Work).

A comparative study generating and exploring a range of data, the research aimed to enhance our understanding of the way in which discrete University-based professionally-qualifying courses draw on values-based pedagogy to incorporate the professional values laid out in formal Standards by external professional bodies (Carr, 2011; Lovat, 2011; Scharf et al., 2019). Specifically, the research aimed to:

consider how language describing values is used across the Standards of the different professionally qualifying courses delivered in the School.
explore the relationships between the language of professional standards and that of University qualifying courses in the School.
determine how theory and practice are linked in the delivery of professionally qualifying courses, and the extent to which students and lecturers have a shared understanding of values-based pedagogy in practice.

The research was undertaken using a mixed methods approach (Creswell and Creswell, 2019).
Firstly, a desk-based analysis of professional standards documentation and course documentation was undertaken, to identify and compare how key values-related vocabulary is used.
Secondly, surveys were used to capture the views of students and lecturers involved with full-time undergraduate professionally qualifying courses in the School.
Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke (2006).

Main Findings
Findings from the desk-based analysis indicate that a core vocabulary is used across professional standards related to the professionally qualifying courses offered at undergraduate and postgraduate level, in respect of professional values. Vocabulary is used differently across the Standards, dependent on the professional focus of the profession they relate to. Similarly, the same core vocabulary is identified in professional course documentation across the qualifying courses.
Findings from the lecturer and student surveys suggest that both populations recognise the importance of professional values as a central part of the taught curriculum and can identify where / how these are taught in their courses. Furthermore, some respondents feel that professional values are modelled by peers in their teaching / learning and professional activities.

Overall, professional values which align with those reflected in professional Standards and the University’s values are both found in course documentation and recognised by those studying and teaching on those courses.
This research has demonstrated the merit of undertaking a larger project to consider a wider range of professions, and to the development of a community of practice which is sustained beyond this project (Mak & Pun, 2015; Owen, 2016; Patton & Parker, 2017; Tam, 2015).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2022
EventBritish Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference 2022 - Liverpool University, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Sept 20228 Sept 2022


ConferenceBritish Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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