Dialogue matters a lot: Autoethnographic reflections of an Australian teaching team managing first-year undergraduate students

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International Journal of Management Education


The shift away from traditional teaching approaches in higher education towards the new ‘traditional model’ of teaching using blended learning is driven by the need to accommodate student learning needs in a digital era. Through the lens of Transactional Distance Theory, this paper aims to understand 1) how to reduce the transactional distance within a blended learning environment to foster active learning and 2) how dialogue and collaboration between instructors impact the teaching practices, and achievement of learning outcomes enable greater learner autonomy. Using an autoethnographic account of the lived experiences of a multiple instructor team, this study focused on a subject delivered to first-year students transitioning to the university during pre-COVID and post-COVID (two teaching semesters in 2019 and two teaching semesters in 2020). Despite higher levels of assumed digital literacy, we found that first-year university students of the digital generation required more structure than autonomy. We argue that instructor collaboration ensures consistency of a team approach to teaching in a BL environment and improves student transition to autonomous learning. We suggest practices and policies for teaching large student cohorts involving multiple instructors and offer insight to explore further TDT can be considered in this regard.

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