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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Faculty members who prefer teaching first-year courses : an exploratory case study Marken, Kari Anna


This exploratory case study delves into the experience of faculty members who indicate a preference for teaching first-year students at the University of British Columbia-Vancouver (UBC), a large-scale, research-intensive, public Canadian university. An in-depth analysis of three faculty members’ narratives contributes to the broader case study of the phenomenon of teaching first-year students. The study attempts to present the capacities of first-year students through the eyes of teachers who believe deeply in the students’ capacity to join the scholarly community. Additionally, the study contributes to the body of research exploring faculty members’ teaching experiences in Canadian, research-intensive universities. The study interprets participants’ descriptions and my observations of pedagogical processes in teaching first-year students by drawing on qualitative data including: interviews, journals, reflective writing and statements of teaching philosophy. The researcher drew upon a set of sensitizing concepts to guide the data analysis but remained open at all times to the other evolving possibilities. Three emergent themes (phrased as action statements and indicated in italics) emerged: Invite students into the scholarly community; Enter with an expectation to mutually benefit from one’s interactions with first-year student; Develop a personal approach to pedagogy. In addition to being a graduate student, the researcher is a current staff member and former sessional instructor, and she explores her own position as a university educator and administrator through personal narrative throughout the dissertation. The results present an analysis that broadens the scope of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) research in the context of teaching first-year students. This study contributes to our understanding of teaching in higher education by responding to an emerging thread in higher education teaching and learning literature: the stories of faculty who indicate a preference for working with first-year students in the Canadian research-intensive university context.

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