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Understanding Staff Development reissues this November

This November Routledge Reference reissues Understanding Staff Development, by Graham Webb, under its Routledge Revivals program. Understanding Staff Development is a further addition to the extensive range of education-focussed Routledge Reference titles.

How do we know what makes for good teaching and learning in higher education? There are plenty of tips and many approaches but how can we make sense of these? This was the challenge taken up in Graham Webb’s book Understanding Staff Development which was first published in 1996. At the time it was the only book available to interpret major theories of teaching and learning in higher education in terms of a wider theory of knowledge. It remains so today. It is the book to which higher education teachers and students, academic leaders and support staff turn in order to gain an informed and comprehensive view of the area. Understanding Staff Development is a misleading title therefore as not only is it a foundational source for academic and staff developers, but it is of similar importance for all those who have a role in teaching and learning in higher education.

The book takes readers through the theory and practice of teaching and learning from the perspectives of science, interpretation/hermeneutics, critical theory and post modernity. At the time of its publication it caused controversy by critiquing major approaches including the notion of ‘deep’ and ‘surface’ learning (sparking a debate between Webb and phenomenographers in the journal ‘Higher Education’) and those associated with action research. Such approaches persist today the importance of Webb’s critique remains undiminished.

The reissue of Understanding Staff Development makes it possible for people to continue to have access to this important work and for a new generation to appreciate and gain understanding from the messages it contains.

For further information or to order a copy, visit

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