At the nexus of learning and innovation
November 26, 1:00 pm

CoCoLab - room 236/237, level 2, A35 Education Building, University of Sydney Camperdown campus

Conversations as informal professional learning: a personalised blend of autonomy, efficiency, and camaraderie


CoCoLab - room 236/237, level 2, A35 Education Building, University of Sydney Camperdown campus

Join us on November 26 for a special Learning and Innovation seminar with Dr Kate Thomson when she will present her research focusing on conversations as informal professional learning.

This seminar highlights key findings from research into academics’ conversations about teaching to offer insights into informal professional learning in higher education. Within workplace contexts, professionals learn from colleagues by engaging in informal conversations, yet little is known about the contribution these types of conversations make to how academics develop as teachers. To examine academics’ experience of ‘corridor’ conversations within their departmental contexts, thirty interviews were conducted with early and mid-career academics. Glaser and Strauss’ (1967) constant comparative method for generating grounded theory was used to analyse the interview transcripts. The analysis revealed that such conversations serve a useful role in developing university teaching practice, and the learning from conversations can complement the learning from formal professional development initiatives (see Thomson, 2015; Thomson & Trigwell, 2018). Further, academics’ engagement in conversations about teaching appears to be driven by a desire for camaraderie – which is likely in direct response to endeavouring to learn about teaching within contexts perceived as offering inconsistent support for teaching development. This seminar will conclude by considering the influence of autonomy, efficiency, and camaraderie on professional learning, and propose areas for future research.

  • Tues 26 November, 1.00pm - 2.00pm - this is a brown-bag event. Refreshments will be provided, please bring a mug/Keepcup etc if possible.
  • CoCoLab (room 236/7 on level 2, A35 Education Building)
  • No registration is needed, just come on the day.

Kate Thomson








Dr Kate Thomson is a Senior Lecturer in Work Integrated Learning at the Faculty of Health Sciences, the University of Sydney, Australia. Primarily, her research has centred on the professional learning of university teachers (i.e., academics and clinical educators), and her emerging interest is in developing future professionals through enhancing students’ learning before, during, and after their work integrated learning placements. She has authored more than 50 peer reviewed articles, book chapters, conference presentations, and invited seminars on informal professional learning, and won the 2016 HERDSA Taylor and Francis Prize for Best Paper by a New Researcher. She has successfully acquired more than $200,000 in grant funding for education and research, including two national competitive grants, one as lead. She serves as an Associate Editor for Higher Education Research and Development. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia, and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.