Setting the stage
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A university’s institutional identity is a way of describing the culture of an organization related to the collective meanings associated with “shared attitudes, values, goals and practices” (MacDonald, 2013, p. 153). As such, articulating an institutional identity can be an important tool for promoting organizational sense-making, encouraging institutional affiliation, supporting change management efforts, and shaping long-term identity and culture (Stensaker, 2015; MacDonald, 2013). Over the last 30 years, the post-secondary environment has become highly competitive (Bok, 2003). As a result, universities and colleges constantly seek ways to differentiate themselves and help potential students understand their institution’s unique strengths and characteristics. Nevertheless, communicating key aspects of an institution’s educational identity can serve many more purposes beyond supporting competitive marketing and recruitment efforts. In addition to framing a message to prospective students, an explicit articulation of the institutional identity connects current students, faculty, and alumni, and is helpful to those responsible for representing the university to funding agencies, accrediting bodies and other governmental agencies, research grantors, and philanthropically-minded individuals and groups. A clear understanding of institutional identity is helpful in making sense of both internal and external organizational dynamics and changes, supporting the development and reinforcement of an organizational image, supporting further organizational innovation and creativity as well as fostering and promoting employee and constituent engagement (Stensaker, 2015). The articulation of this identity via the development of an “institutional educational framework” can assist faculty, staff, and senior administrators in a university in describing or articulating the characteristics related to learning and teaching that are most relevant to the unique educative mission of their institution. Articulating a common and institution-wide understanding of the unique mix of history, learning approaches, curriculum, teaching strategies, and educational practices that give rise to a particularly institutional identity is a laudable exercise. Many efforts to help define these characteristics happen at the school, program, or faculty level, where prospective students often engage in their own comparative analyses. At the institutional level, however, recruitment and public relations departments are often charged with the responsibility of communicating the institutionally unique characteristics to prospective students, industry representatives, and community partners, which means that an institutionalwide articulation strategy has the potential for increasing the reach of engagement and involvement within the institution. In the first part of this chapter, we describe the attributes of institutional education frameworks, explore the reasons why such frameworks exist, and articulate the benefits of developing them. Next, we present the Royal Roads University Learning and Teaching Model (2013) as an example of an institutional framework and describe the model’s rationale, core characteristics, development process, and some of the key lessons learned in its implementation.
While numerous institutions across the globe are currently developing institutional educational frameworks to improve student outcomes, experiences, and success, scholars have long lamented mismatches between theory and practice. In this book, educators and scholars describe how they implemented Royal Roads University's Learning and Teaching Model in practice, illustrating how educational theory translates to practice.
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