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‘Things fall apart so they can fall together’: uncovering the hidden side of writing a teaching award application

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Teaching awards are now common practice in higher education. However, few award applicants and their writing guides have investigated their experience of writing a teaching award application, a writing process recognised as different from that required in research publication. To systematically research and analyse their personal experiences two successful Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation applicants (Robyn and Thea) and their guide (Coralie) undertook a process of self-inquiry from an autoethnographic perspective. This paper presents a narrative constructed by Coralie, Robyn and Thea to bring into one story their individual autoethnographies. This collective narrative takes the reader beyond the scholarly discussions of benefits and concerns about teaching award schemes prominent in the literature to date, to uncover a previously hidden view of award application writing. From this new viewpoint writing a teaching award application is seen as a process which moves the applicant from a position of certainty and comfort (‘homeliness’), through a period where ‘things fall apart’ as the applicant's sense of ‘unhomeliness’ (disorientation and confusion) increases, to a time where ‘things fall together’ as a newfound sense of ‘homeliness’ that represents growth in the individual as a teacher and a writer. Applicants develop a clearer understanding of their strengths and weaknesses as educators and the confidence to challenge their previous pedagogical practices. As writers they develop attitudes and skills to recognise and to set aside familiar, but limiting, writing strategies.




McCormack, C., Vanags, T., & Prior, R. (2014). ‘Things fall apart so they can fall together’: uncovering the hidden side of writing a teaching award application. Higher Education Research and Development, 33(5), 935–948.

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