Future Voices and Imperatives in Educational Development

By Mary Deane Sorcinelli

The professional field of educational development is young, having emerged just over fifty years ago. Over five decades we’ve seen exciting advancements as the field has evolved from a focus on individual to collective learning, from singular to multi-dimensional goals, from largely uncoordinated activities to centralized units, from few measures of impact to growing research on practice, and from a small network of developers to a global profession, as evidenced by ICED.     

The decades of unremitting change in higher education, however, have created challenges for the field.  In 2006 and 2016, we conducted large-scale studies of U.S. and Canadian developers to better understand current practices and future aspirations of the field.  Paradoxes abound in the data.  For example, purposes guiding programs suggest a growing emphasis on institutional change, yet goals that might advance such change (e.g., working with departments, influencing reward structures) are the least influential.  Developers are addressing priority issues in teaching and learning but approaches used to deliver those services are often the most efficient rather than the most evidence-based.  Developers are acutely aware of the need to assess the quality and impact of their programs but are challenged in assessing instructional practice and student learning.    

For all of us in ICED, what kind of organizational priorities will be most important as developers work in an increasingly networked and evidence-based environment locally, nationally and globally?  What mission priorities, membership paths and portfolios, scholarship and research, networking and mentoring opportunities, and assessment frameworks and practices will be most authentic and useful to members in building their capacities to meet the challenges that the next decade of change in higher education will bring?