Developing a Learning Culture: A Framework for the Growth of Teaching Expertise

Dr. Nancy Chick, PhD, Dr. Natasha Kenny, PhD, Dr. Carol Berenson, PhD, Dr. Carol Johnson, PhD, Dr. David Keegan, PhD, Dr. Emma Read, PhD, Dr. Leslie Reid, PhD

November 2017


Many postsecondary institutions have started to explore what it means to develop and demonstrate teaching expertise, recognizing not only the complexities of teaching and of documenting the experiences of teaching, but also that teaching expertise is developed through a learning process that continues over time (Hendry & Dean, 2002; Kreber, 2002). Our framework (see below graphic) for this growth of teaching expertise draws from the scholarly literature related to postsecondary teaching and learning to demonstrate that teaching expertise involves multiple facets, habits of mind (or ways of knowing and being), and possible developmental activities.

The Structure of the Framework

Our framework introduces three foundational habits of mind — inclusive, learning-centred, and collaborative ways of knowing and being — that ground five interwoven and non-hierarchical facets of teaching expertise:

  • teaching and supporting learning,
  • professional learning and development,
  • mentorship,
  • research, scholarship, and inquiry, and
  • educational leadership.

Conceptualization of a framework for the development of teaching expertise


Within each facet are possible activities that reflect a developmental continuum from explore, to engage, to expand, demonstrating a shift from the growth of oneself within a local context toward contributing to the growth of others and creating processes and resources for the broader teaching and learning community (see table, pp. 5-7 in the complete pdf document or editable word document).

Although the table is useful for identifying details within the framework, we acknowledge that the image of a table suggests linear movement, hierarchies, and fixed borders, so we look to Figure 1 as the more precise visual to demonstrate that:

  • activities within each facet and across the continuum are fluid and iterative because the development of teaching expertise is recursive and context dependent, and
  • there is no single entrypoint into the framework, as instructors move across the facets and back and forth in the continuum throughout their careers.

The Intention & Possible Uses of the Framework

This framework is “written in pencil” in that it is meant to be shared, adapted, and used according to the needs of local contexts. The intention is to provide a scholarly framework for recognizing the breadth of characteristics involved in the development of teaching expertise in postsecondary contexts across all career stages.  We envision a variety of uses of the framework, such as the following:

  • As a framework for understanding, it will guide the academic community in finding meaning in the everyday activities that make up the growth of teaching expertise.
  • As a framework for self-reflection, it will help instructors—faculty, sessional instructors, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students—identify and communicate their strengths, and pursue particular aspects of their teaching for further development.
  • As a framework for dialogue, it will help peers and critical friends facilitate their ongoing growth through significant conversations about teaching and learning (Roxå & Mårtensson, 2009).
  • As a framework for facilitating future-oriented conversations, it will help department heads and other campus leaders nurture individual instructors and contribute to teaching and learning cultures across postsecondary education.


Hendry, G.D. & Dean, S.J. 2002.  Accountability, evaluation and teaching expertise in higher education.  International Journal of Academic Development, 7(1), 75-82.

Kreber, C. (2002). Teaching excellence, teaching expertise, and the scholarship of teaching. Innovative Higher Education, 27(1), 5-23.

Roxå, T., & Mårtensson, K. (2009). Significant conversations and significant networks–exploring the backstage of the teaching arena. Studies in Higher Education, 34(5), 547-559.

Related content 

A Developmental Framework for Teaching Expertise in Postsecondary Education

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