Learning developers as their own cultural critics?


  • Christie Pritchard Plymouth University




The values that guide the work of ALDinHE and those associated with us as an organisation include ‘making HE inclusive through emancipatory practice, partnership working and collaboration’ and ‘critical self-reflection, on-going learning and a commitment to professional development’ (ALDinHE, 2022). However, considering this from a relational, or systems thinking perspective; how achievable are these values? Can we truly be inclusive to all? Exploring this notion in my doctoral research, using Bourdieu’s relational framework (Bourdieu, 1992; Bourdieu, 1993; Bourdieu, 1997; Bourdieu & Passeron, 1990) I was confronted with some uncomfortable truths. Education is reproductive in the sense that it selects those with the necessary capital to succeed and nurtures them to develop further. The diversity of student’s prior experience, background and capital to succeed is clear, and Learning Developers know how difficult  Higher Education can be to navigate, but how often do we reflexively consider how our work reproduces the cultural system.

Conference attendees working in small groups, discussed a brief precis of my Doctoral research, a copy of ALDinHE values and summary of Bourdieu’s notion of autonomy (Bourdieu, 1992). The following questions were posed to prompt discussion.

  1. How autonomous are we as practitioners and are we able to change the system that reproduces the inequality of society?
  2. Is being positioned by students as part of their curriculum through embedded practice advantageous all of the time?
  3. Do we focus on the knowledge and skills students bring, or are we forced to help them adapt to the game?

Author Biography

Christie Pritchard, Plymouth University

Christie Pritchard is a Senior Fellow of Advance HE and an Associate Professor of Higher Education. Her research and practice focus on promoting student success through creating a sense of belonging, designing inclusive curriculum and assessment, and developing social learning spaces for transformational learning. As well as leading the Academic Development department at the University of Plymouth, she contributes to the strategic development of cross institution education policies and projects. She champions academic development and student experience at an institutional and national level, focusing on understanding students’ learning in a relational way. She has recently taken the role of Co-Chair of ALDinHE.



Association of Learning Development in Higher Education, ALDinHE (2022) Aims, Values. Available at: https://aldinhe.ac.uk (Accessed: 5th September 2022).

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Bourdieu, P. & Passeron, J.-C. (1990) Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture. London, Newbury Park, SAGE Publications.

Boylan, M. and Woolsey, I. (2015). ‘Teacher education for social justice: mapping identity spaces’, Teaching and teacher education, 46, pp. 62-71. Doi:10.1016/j.tate.2014.10.007

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Halstead, J. M. and Taylor, M. J. (2000) The Development of Values, Attitudes and Personal Qualities: A Review of recent Research. Slough: National Foundation for Educational Research.

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How to Cite

Pritchard, C. (2022) “Learning developers as their own cultural critics?”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (25). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi25.967.