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University teachers’ conceptions of “Changemaker”: A starting point for embedding social innovation in learning and teaching

Bethany Alden Rivers (The Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, The University of Northampton, Northampton, UK)
Ming Nie (The Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, The University of Northampton, Northampton, UK)
Alejandro Armellini (The Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, The University of Northampton, Northampton, UK)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 13 July 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report on a study aimed at understanding the different conceptions that University of Northampton teachers hold of “Changemaker”, an institutional initiative to develop capacities for social innovation.

Design/methodology/approach

The study took a phenomenographic approach to identify a small number of qualitatively different conceptions of Changemaker among teaching staff. Face-to-face, phenomenographic interviews were carried out with 30 teachers across the university. Transcript data were analysed using thematic inductive analysis.

Findings

Five different conceptions of Changemaker were found: Changemaker as university strategy; Changemaker as critical thinking, perspective shifting and problem solving; Changemaker as employability; Changemaker as social betterment; and Changemaker as personal transformation.

Research limitations/implications

The outcome space of conceptions represents the beliefs of teaching staff at the University of Northampton. The approach to research and plans for the practical application of findings may be of direct benefit to other education providers as they develop their own models for teaching and learning.

Practical implications

The findings from this study will inform the next phase of the project, which involves the development of a skills/attributes/behaviours matrix for social innovation education.

Social implications

An initiative, such as Changemaker, works to enhance the capacities of university students to work as agents of positive social change. By building a research programme around this initiative, the findings from this work can be disseminated and used by other higher education institutions.

Originality/value

The findings of this study will address the absence of literature on teachers’ conceptions of phenomena related to social innovation, social entrepreneurship and intrepreneurship. Understanding teachers’ beliefs of such phenomena is relevant to the growing number of universities that address these subjects in the curriculum.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to the academic staff who participated in this study and to Karen Alden for her assistance with transcription. The authors appreciate to Sue Allen and Jane Bunce for their peer review of this paper.

Citation

Alden Rivers, B., Nie, M. and Armellini, A. (2015), "University teachers’ conceptions of “Changemaker”: A starting point for embedding social innovation in learning and teaching", Education + Training, Vol. 57 No. 5, pp. 588-600. https://doi.org/10.1108/ET-07-2014-0078

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited