Developing teaching practice


The current university model in a market-driven and knowledge-based society entails a change in the teachers' roles. The prevailing narrative sustains a competence-based approach in higher education, considering that quality education implies that teachers in this context must have personal, research and pedagogical skills that enable them to perform their teaching function effectively. A systematic review of empirical articles published between 2009 and 2019 provides a comprehensive and updated analysis of the higher education teachers' pedagogical competences. A total of 51 texts that describe the teaching competence components (knowledge, skills, and attitudes) were reviewed and retrieved from seven international databases in three languages. Personal skills and qualities stand out as the features most valued by students, whereas teachers highlight curriculum and instructional competence as the most important. Cultural competence and specific competences to respond to diversity and promote inclusion in higher education classrooms are almost nonexistent. The study has implications for defining quality teaching practice transnationally and designing professional development programs focused on the competences and indicators most valued. The resulting framework is also helpful for individual teachers as a tool for reflecting on their teaching characteristics and for improving their practice. It also problematises the current dominant performance-based model of teaching competence in a context that does not recognise the importance of situational profiles that cater for diversity in academic settings.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Academic staff need to develop a wider range of teaching competences that include welcoming personal skills that support a good learning climate, the ability to develop appropriate curriculum and instruction proposals, and the ability to behave and communicate in diverse cultural settings.
  2. Individual teachers and teacher development programs in higher education need evidence-based studies to support the planning and evaluation of teaching competences and indicators related to teaching efficacy and student satisfaction.
  3. The framework resulting from the study can be used to design professional development programs and support individual teachers’ reflection on their teaching.
  4. A standardized transnational dominant competence model works against a situational teaching profile. Teachers in higher education contexts need to engage in more collaborative and teacher/learner-led professional development modes to respond to local needs.
  5. The study shows that students value the ability to establish sound interpersonal relationships as an indicator of teaching quality in higher education.