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An exploratory study on microcultures and significant conversations within an academic department

Wednesday 3 July: 5:30pm – 7:00pm, poster session



Associate Professor Kamala Devi
National University of Singapore, Singapore

Swee Kit, Alan Soong
National University of Singapore, Singapore



This exploratory study aimed to investigate the microcultures and significant conversations among academic teachers within the Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies (ALCNS), a department at the National University of Singapore. The study adopted Roxå & Mårtensson’s argument (2015) that ‘socially constructed and institutionalised traditions, recurrent practices and tacit assumptions in various microcultures influence academic teachers towards certain behaviour.’ The framework on microculture developed by Roxå (2014) and definition of significant conversations by Roxå and Mårtensson (2009) are used for the study.  The research question for the study was “What is the profile of ALCNS in terms of (i) microculture and (ii) significant conversations about teaching and learning of academic teachers? A qualitative descriptive design was adopted to elicit information from the participants of the study using semi-structured interviews. The questions were categorised into two main sections, significant networks and microcultures. The study findings revealed that the department exhibited a culture predominantly of the commons with some elements of club and market. In view of this observation, the elements of building trust and shared responsibility need to be taken into consideration when designing and planning academic development activities for the department. Results further highlighted that academic teachers in the nursing department have a relatively high aggregated number of conversation partners, with junior academic teachers having a larger number of conversational partners in comparison to the more senior academic teachers. The conversations held had focus on three key areas: teaching, practice and research. An improved understanding about the profile of microcultures within a department and significant conversations of academic teachers provides better insight to academic developers on how to refine strategies in engaging academic teachers through a more holistic evidence-based approach, instead of merely relying on findings from evaluation findings of professional development programmes and learning opportunities.


Presentation topic

Poster session


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