Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Contemporary Issues in Education Research





Inclusive Pages



Developing leaders and leadership are key factors to improve learning and teaching in higher education. Despite the abundance of literature concerning developing formal leadership, fewer studies have been conducted with academics in non-formal leadership roles that focus on how they develop their leadership in learning and teaching. Publication and funding metrics are evidence of leadership and success in research. Metrics in learning and teaching exist, but are less well accepted and valued. We undertook a qualitative descriptive study to examine how academics in non-formal leadership roles at an Australian university understood leadership and described their leadership in teaching. Following ethical approval, eight participants were interviewed using a semi-structured format. Thematic analysis revealed four themes: leadership is the ability to influence direction; all about the culture; becoming visible and speaking up; and learning leadership together. Participants said leading teaching teams effectively and influencing quality learning experiences for students and colleagues is ‘evidence’ of leadership in learning and teaching. Some said a few research colleagues and formal leaders did not accept such ‘evidence’ and continued to favour leadership of research teams. This paper contributes new strategies as possible ways forward to facilitate cultural change in higher education institutions that include: a need for formal leaders and academics to reach agreement about evidence of effective leadership in learning and teaching; academics sharing innovations to effectively lead teaching teams and to promote quality teaching experiences for students; and mentoring colleagues in learning and teaching


Reproduced with permission of the Clute Institute.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Open Access