Higher Learning Research Communications

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Objectives: Improving performance to meet strategic priorities, such as teaching balanced with increased applied research activities, has developed into a central, though contentious, discourse for faculty in Ontario colleges. The aim of this article is to analyze and better understand why faculty are not engaged in applied research practices.

Method: This article draws from social cognition theory and a social constructivist perspective. The literature review examines the evolution of colleges in Ontario, including the political factors and symbolic artifacts that shape values and organizational practices. This study sought to explore how a conceptual continuous improvement (CI) framework might advance our understanding of the policy shifts between applied research discourses within Ontario colleges in Canada and barriers that faculty face to enact applied research practices.

Results: Underpinned by a set of simple principles, including improving through communication, learning through collaboration, and changing through coordination, the conceptual CI processes and systematic method provide opportunities to bridge the different contexts and unveil the varied on-the-ground realities of faculty teaching and research tasks.

Conclusions: The findings reveal developmental needs and adaptive institutional challenges related to applied research practice changes have been influenced by political, cultural, and socio-cognition contexts and tasks.

Implication for Practice: The inventive conceptual CI framework provides a viable means to analyze the fragmented state of applied research practices across Ontario colleges, which may ignite conversations and inform decision-making as well as suggest approaches to change at other global postsecondary education institutions. The innovative conceptual CI framework analysis tool will be of interest to faculty, institutional leaders, faculty unions, and policymakers.