Educational Development Challenges

As part of the course I am taking on Educational Development I had to read two papers and answer the question: Consider what is it about educational development that makes it engaging and challenging at times, sometimes at the same time. Here are my thoughts:


  • Defensive Position – Constantly having to justify why you do and why you do it. Even with senior administration there is a lack of education about the position. The perception of others may be that the position is unnecessary or a waste of money
  • Uncertain Career Path. Often Educational Developers are seen as “Tier two” academics (if they are even seen as academics). The career path may have no progression or movement opportunities. Climbing the ivory tower can be difficult as there can be a prestigious in the position
  • Unrecognized as Academics. Many Educational Developer have no recognition of their service or rewards typical for academics. Thus there is exclusion. Excluded from research & evaluation opportunities


  • Support. Tremendous outside support from other Educational Developers
  • Valued. Individuals at institutions value the advice and offerings of Educational Developers
  • Unique Talents. To be successful in this role, a variety of skills and abilities are needed.
  • Interesting. The position itself is multi-faceted. Like a unique job every day? I suspect this is a career for you


The first paper listed below was, in my opinion, the most interesting one as it looked at the position of an educational developer with respect to gender. Typically women occupy fewer positions in higher education. Gender imbalance increases as you climb the corporate ladder in higher education. This is not the case, however, with Educational Developers where women dominate in numbers in the field and in positions of leadership. Why do women hold greater numbers of positions and leadership roles in this discipline? Possiblely is is due to the supportive and service nature of the position. The job is typically coded with “feminine” words and skills. While these skills are a benefit in the position, they may be seen as a liability when attempting to climb the ivory tower.

Most Educational Developers have doctoral degrees and are very qualified for their position, yet the positions themselves may be uncertain or ambiguous; the position is often not valued by the institution. Is the marginalization due to the “pink ghetto” phenomenon? The position is not typically underpaid, but is often in the periphery and can be systematically excluded. How to fix this marginalization? Bernhagen and Gravett suggest being explicit in the work done, its importance and the role you have. Also, in academia, it is important not to neglect or undervalue scholarship



Bernhagen, L. and Gravett, E. (2017) Educational development as pink collar labor: Implications and recommendations., To Improve the Academy, 36(1), 9-19. DOI: 10.1002/tia2.20053

Kensington-Miller, B., Renc-Roe, J. and Moron-Garcia, S. (2015) The chameleon on a tartan rug: Adaptations of three academic developers’ professional identities, International Journal for Academic Development, 20(3), 279 – 290. DOI:


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