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Metaphors of University Educators: The Expectation Gap with Implications for Educator Wellbeing


Generalised moves to online and more flexible delivery modes of teaching have challenged the perceptions and expectations of university educators worldwide. Congruence around educator role expectations, held by both the educator and their students, therefore is central to educator wellbeing, and by default, student success in a changing university environment. Metaphorical analysis is a way to understand perceptions, expectations, and the realities of university teaching. Extending the work of Saban et al. (2007), this mixed methods study of metaphors of university educators from student and educator perspectives found that while educators and students were aligned in conceptualizing teachers, there were increasing expectations on educators to demonstrate higher levels of humanistic personal qualities while at the same time being experts, accredited teachers, and engaging content creators. Educators however saw themselves as something different to how students see them, pointing to a vulnerability for educator wellbeing. The implications suggest more institutional support is needed for the ‘being and doing’ of teaching and to find better ways to align the expectations of students, universities, and educators. For early career educators, recognising the tension between the reality and aspiration of being a teacher, will go some way towards maintaining educator wellbeing.


Published: 2023-12-11
Pages:1 to 17
How to Cite
Johnston, K. A., & Lane, A. B. (2023). Metaphors of University Educators: The Expectation Gap with Implications for Educator Wellbeing. Student Success, 14(3), 1-17.

Author Biographies

Kim A. Johnston (PhD) is a Professor at QUT Business School and is internationally recognised for her research in communication engagement, social impact, and social license to operate. Her current research focuses on community engagement for resilience. She teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses in stakeholder and community engagement, issues management, and internal communication. 

Queensland University of Technology
Australia Australia

Anne B. Lane (PhD) is an Associate Professor at QUT Business School.  Anne teaches and researches in organisational communication – especially in the field of media relations – and storytelling. Anne is a member of QUT’s Community and Stakeholder Engagement Research Hub. She is particularly interested in how storytelling can be used to improve students’ learning experiences, and to gather data from research participants.  

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795