Teaching outside your area of expertise: an opportunity for professional development

Bouziane Zaid, Cindy Gunn, Jana Fedtke*, Mohammed Ibahrine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As professional demands in an increasingly competitive academic environment are growing, professors are often assigned to teach outside their area of expertise. This paper investigates the experience of teaching new courses that are outside a faculty member’s immediate area of expertise. Key questions concern the extent to which faculty members appreciate the opportunity to be content novices and whether they accept to appear as such in front of their students. This paper uses an online qualitative survey of 70 international faculty members from diverse academic disciplines. It also employs the computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS) package NVivo (Version 12) to conduct a series of qualitative analysis. Our findings suggest a fluctuation in the faculty members’ responses about the importance of mastering the subject matter and the joy of teaching as a content novice. The study finally provides practical suggestions on how to succeed in teaching outside one’s area of expertise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-640
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021


  • classroom management
  • Expertise
  • higher education
  • teacher credibility
  • teaching styles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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