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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Nebraska, Lincoln]On: 10 October 2014, At: 05:09Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Innovations in Education and TeachingInternationalPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/riie20

    Engaging students and staff witheducational development throughappreciative inquiryKarima Kadi-Hanifia, Ozlem Dagmana, John Petersb, Ellen Snella,Caroline Tuttona & Trevor Wrightaa Institute of Education, University of Worcester, Worcester, UK.b Academic Development and Practice, University of Worcester,Worcester, UK.Published online: 13 May 2013.

    To cite this article: Karima Kadi-Hanifi, Ozlem Dagman, John Peters, Ellen Snell, Caroline Tutton& Trevor Wright (2014) Engaging students and staff with educational development throughappreciative inquiry, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 51:6, 584-594, DOI:10.1080/14703297.2013.796719

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14703297.2013.796719

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  • Engaging students and staff with educational developmentthrough appreciative inquiry

    Karima Kadi-Hanifia*, Ozlem Dagmana, John Petersb, Ellen Snella, Caroline Tuttona

    and Trevor Wrighta

    aInstitute of Education, University of Worcester, Worcester, UK; bAcademic Development andPractice, University of Worcester, Worcester, UK

    Appreciative inquiry (AI) offers a constructive, strengths-based framework forengaging students and staff in the enhancement of academic programmes ofstudy. This paper explores the basis of AI, its potential for educational develop-ment and the many agendas it might help address. Students and academic staffinvolved in an AI project, focused on improving inclusivity across an Instituteof Education, share their experiences and reveal how the approach can be usedin practice. In the process, they discuss their learning from the experience andestablish the power of envisioning development on the basis of hearing thepositive student voice.

    Keywords: appreciative inquiry (AI); student voice; participatory research;educational development; inclusivity

    Introduction

    Appreciative inquiry (AI) has recently been promoted as an appropriate methodologyfor researching learning (Cousin, 2009) and to revitalise evaluation in HigherEducation (HE) (Chapman, 2011). However, its value as a means of engaging anacademic community in educational development goes well beyond research andevaluation functions. The power of the unconditional positive question (Ludema,Cooperrider, & Barrett, 2001, p. 189), which lies at the heart of AI, is its ability toengage, enthuse, energise and enhance learning communities. As a form of educa-tional development, AI provides the means to address a number of current challengessuch as developing academic communities, developing research informed practiceand promoting engagement with meaningful change programmes, as well as engag-ing students as co-researchers and active partners in curriculum development. It alsoprovides a means of avoiding the pitfalls of deficit-driven approaches to developmentand managerial approaches to performance management. This paper explores thepossible advantages of AI, sets out a model for conducting AI in HE and worksthrough an example of its application to promote inclusivity in a successful Instituteof Education (IoE). The example is explored through the different perspectives ofthose involved in running the process; an educational developer, three studentresearchers and two IoE academic staff.

    *Corresponding author. Email: k.kadi-hanifi@worc.ac.uk

    Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 2014Vol. 51, No. 6, 584594, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14703297.2013.796719

    2013 Taylor & Francis

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  • The University of Worcester is known for its commitment to excellent inclusiveHE and has a recent track record in using AI successfully. The IoE, in which thisproject took place, is its largest faculty with student numbers of around 3000 andteaching staff of around 70. In this case, a focus on inclusivity was chosen becausethis work sought to enhance the Universitys practices in this area, building on pre-vious success as part of a wider national HE Academy project (Chapman, 2011;May & Bridger, 2010). This could have been problematic, and interpreted as teach-ing granny to suck eggs, given the IoEs established and respected Centre for Edu-cational Inclusion but our approach promised to highlight, build-on and use, ratherthan question, their expertise; an inclusive approach to inclusion.

    The educational developers perspective: the benefits of AI as educationaldevelopment

    Manathunga (2006, 2007) has rightly drawn attention to the discomfort felt bymany educational developers which comes from being trapped in that painful spacebetween managerial quality-assurance agendas and critical, personal understandingsof the roles and purposes of educational development (Manathunga, 2007, p. 29).While we may like to see ourselves as liberating enablers, helping colleagues toblossom as educators; managers and academic colleagues often see us as a key partof the institutional framework for domesticating colleagues and bringing them intoline with the latest strategies, policies and agendas (Land, 2001, p. 9). This has per-versely become more problematic in recent years, as quality frameworks in HEhave made what should be a positive move from quality assurance to qualityenhancement (Raban, 2007). As well, perhaps, as encouraging quality managers tobecome more developmental, this has all too often dragged educational develop-ment into becoming an arm of quality management. The move from quality assur-ance to quality enhancement frameworks means a shift from making mereintermittent checks to becoming increasingly interested in driving improved organi-sational performance through continuous cycles of audits, evaluations, reports andaction plans (Hussey & Smith, 2010). Educational developers increasingly findthemselves deployed to deliver and police action to address identified deficits;improving poor student evaluation scores, addressing action plan targets, trainingcolleagues in the latest policy change or otherwise drafted-in to address perceivedpoor performance. Such approaches have division, distrust and negativity built-in tothem; establishing opposition between critiqued and critic, damaging learning com-munities by emphasising division and embedding the rhetoric of whingeing stu-dents, interfering central services and intransigent academic staff. It is smallwonder that this alienates many academic colleagues and makes us feel profoundlyuneasy.

    AI offers a means of engaging colleagues and students in educational develop-ment without the baggage of these deficit-driven, performance managementapproaches. It adopts deliberately affirmative assumptions about people, organisa-tions and relationships (Ludema et al., 2001, p. 191). The focus throughout, then,is not on problems, failings and deficits but on strengths, successes, opportunitiesand innovations. Students are not invited or encouraged to see themselves as com-plaining customers, nor are academic staff positioned as defensive traditionalists,instead a dialogue is started about what works. AIs fundamental question, whatgives life here? re-focuses our attention away from complaint, blame and critique,

    Innovations in Education and Teaching International 585

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  • and towards nurturing, celebration and invention. This is clearly bette