Teaching as a Social Practice: Implications for Faculty Development

Marcel D'Eon, Valerie Overgaard, Sheila Rutledge Harding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


What we believe about the nature of teaching has important implications for faculty development. In this article we contrast three different beliefs about the nature of teaching and highlight the implications for faculty development. If teaching were merely a technical enterprise where well trained teachers delivered packaged lessons, a very directive style of faculty development might be appropriate. If teaching were primarily a craft where teachers made personal judgments daily about how and what to teach, then faculty development which encouraged individual reflection and artistry might be more suitable. This article advances the argument that teaching generally (and teaching in medical schools in particular) is best characterized as a type of social practice. Social practices (such as parenting, being polite, and going to university) are purposive, rational, moral, communal, and are identified by their activities. The communal aspect of teaching means, among other things, that the prevailing social norms of faculty at particular institutions of higher education have a large role to play in shaping the practice of teaching. This being the case, faculty development needs to provide teachers the opportunity to address and reshape these powerful social norms where necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-162
Number of pages12
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Faculty development
  • Nature of teaching
  • Social norms of teaching
  • Social practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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