Disciplinary Differences and University Teaching

Ruth Neumann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

233 Citations (Scopus)


In the past decade the importance and quality of teaching have received increased attention from policy makers as well as from higher educationalists. However, studies of university teaching and learning essentially remain focused on generic aspects, thus belying their complexity and diversity. This is in contrast to the recognition that academics identify most strongly with their discipline. Further, Becher's classic study of Academic Tribes and Territories demonstrated the strong interconnection between disciplinary culture and disciplinary knowledge. This article draws together existing, but largely scattered, research findings on teaching and learning under an established framework of broad disciplinary classifications. In doing so, it examines the nature of teaching, teaching and learning processes, and teaching outcomes across the different disciplines. The picture presented demonstrates scope for future macro, meso and micro level studies to seek explanations for systematic disciplinary differences. It suggests how the results of this research can be used to inform institutional and government policy to make the governance of higher education fairer and more effective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-146
Number of pages12
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2001


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