Faculty members are the most pivotal actors if teaching and learning is to develop. Engagement in conversations and scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) can improve the quality of teaching as well as student learning (Trigwell & Shale, 2004). However, these processes do not happen in isolation. Faculty, students and supportive staff are all part of sociocultural, collegial contexts where norms, values and traditions are developed over time (Trowler, 2008). This leads to certain taken-for-granteds, assumptions and practices in relation to teaching, learning and assessment. Any teaching team, working group, academic programme or department could be said to constitute an academic microculture (Roxå & Mårtensson, 2015) that has developed its own set of such traditions in relation to teaching and learning.
This presentation will highlight some of the sociocultural factors that influence the academic workplace, in particular the role of significant and collegial conversations. These factors are useful to know about whether one is in academia as a faculty member, a support staff, a student, a leader, an academic developer or other. Drawing on a recent book-chapter (Mårtensson & Roxå, 2016), concepts such as significant networks (Roxå & Mårtensson, 2009), academic microcultures (Roxå & Mårtensson, 2015) and communities of practice (Wenger, 1999) will be explored and exemplified, and their relevance for development of teaching and learning will be discussed.