Teacher Training in Universities?


You know I found the PGCLTHE particularly helpful, and it’s interesting that the idea of University ‘teacher training’ still causes so much debate (and a certain lack of enthusiasm amongst staff):

Academics are often critical about systems of teacher training and the evaluation of teaching effectiveness. Why is this? Clearly it is not because academics think that teaching is unimportant; most say teaching is important and wish that it were given greater importance in personnel decisions.

Probably most professionals – not just teachers – are critical of the systems used to evaluate them. Academics are highly trained to be critical of research and they use these skills to critique teacher evaluation and training programmes. There are also heated debates on how to evaluate research track records and related peer-review processes. Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon the higher education system to implement – and to be seen to implement – professional development programmes at all stages, as well as frameworks to guide their construction and evaluation, and systems for the continuing evaluation of university teachers.

Read full story.

Poor marks for compulsory (HE) teacher training



Interesting, having recently completed my PGCLTHE (which I found helpful)… the general gist of the story is that there is support for the idea that all who teach in HE should be appropriately qualified, but there’s a debate as to how this should be done, and whether this should aim for ‘one size fits all’…

It said at the time that it “strongly recommended” that all new academic staff “be required” to complete an HEA-accredited teaching programme, such as the postgraduate certificate in higher education.

It also said that all postgraduates who teach should undertake training, that existing staff should be “offered opportunities” to do a PGCHE or the equivalent, and that classroom observation should become part of any teaching qualification.

But the HEA’s report on the consultation, published this week, reveals that more than 70 per cent of respondents oppose compulsory discipline-based teaching qualifications.

Read full story.

Is it worth ‘teacher coaching’ at University?


Is ‘teacher training’ at Higher Education level worthwhile? Well, as someone who’s in the Learning & Teaching Development Unit, clearly I think so! I completed my PGCLTHE earlier this year, and found it great to challenge my thinking on the way that I teach, and it’s changed my practice hugely. There’s plenty of comments on this story in the Times Higher Education:

Where academics were instructed on how to teach better, Dr Robson said, peer review of their lectures could be used, although this would only be right for staff that had received “long-term training”.

Dr Robson added that self-evaluation could be useful, with lecturers asked to provide examples of how their training did or did not improve their teaching.

They could also use National Student Survey scores to show improvements, she argued.

Other areas could be assessed more simply (whether staff had absorbed basic health and safety training could be ascertained using a simple questionnaire, for example). But leadership and development coaching needed something “more detailed”, Dr Robson said, such as appraisals by line managers three to sixth months after completion.

Where staff took on much more “intensive” training, scores could be given on performance, which could then be used to calculate the return on investment.

Teaching Overseas: A Cultural Challenge


Fascinating insight into teaching practice from Dr Jennifer Hill, a lecturer who had a six-month tour of Iraq with the Royal Engineers as a Territorial Army officer:

But Dr Hill’s time in Iraq was not just about serving Queen and country. Working with a completely different set of students made her a better teacher, she believes.

“We were there doing post-war reconstruction and helping to get their infrastructure back on track,” she said. “I was in charge of a group educating and training local artisans, who were learning under a system with no formal framework of qualifications.

“These electricians and carpenters had a certain level of technical knowledge, but they could not apply it beyond their basic training.”

Saddam’s regime, she said, “had completely squashed their ability to think for themselves and problem-solve.

“We encouraged them to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses – to make their own decisions and think more creatively.

“It made me think about how I taught my students in Bristol, and consider whether I spent too much time thinking about the cognitive and academic demands of a course, rather than how students were interacting with each other or approaching materials.”

Also a great advocate for PGCLTHE:

Dr Hill is an unapologetic advocate for compulsory teacher training for young academics. She took a postgraduate certificate in teaching and learning at her own university seven years ago and highly recommends the experience.

“The course validated many of my teaching activities, clarified the theoretical foundations on which they were based and prompted me to consider how I could improve my practice, especially how to engage students more actively in their learning.”

Increased use of podcasts, video clips and other new-media materials is another way that teaching can be improved, she said.

“I teach a lot of bio-geography about forests and deserts, and it’s often difficult to convey what a place is actually like.

“I film a lot of stuff on location and students love it, but you have to make sure it’s engaging with them in a useful way. When I first did it, students were not coming together or learning from each other.”

She also cautioned against allowing students to think that their lecturers will spoon-feed them with all the materials they need.

“You need to anchor them in the subject and challenge them to find out more. I now set quizzes about the materials and generally help to move them in the right direction.”

She finishes:

“Every university should encourage and support teaching to the same extent that it does research.”

Submission of ‘Reflective Portfolio’ for PGCLTHE

The Practice of Teaching in Higher Education 29-3-11

The first draft had a lot more quotes/background material in it, but I was asked to pull it back to allow more of my own reflections to shine through (and it was too long anyway!). Let’s see what happens, eh? Taking it into work on Thursday, and assuming it passes (50% +), then I will become a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

CV for @drbexl

I am currently completing my final essay for the PGCLTHE, and realised I needed to refer to my CV, so I thought I’d make it hyper-linked (seems to have ‘wiggled’ the fonts though)!

Dr Bex Lewis – Academic CV (March 2011)

‘Too Detailed and Prescriptive’

Experts have raised “serious concerns” about new requirements for lecturer training.

The proposals, set out by the Higher Education Academy, are “too detailed and prescriptive” and could be counterproductive, staff in the field have warned.

Plans to revise the UK Professional Standards Framework were published by the HEA in November after the Browne Review called for teaching qualifications to be made compulsory for new academics.

The framework, which was first published in 2006, is used to accredit universities’ teaching-development activities, but the HEA has admitted that many staff do not see it as “relevant” to their career progression.

Under the HEA’s proposals, the updated framework says that in future, all staff on academic probation will have to complete an HEA-accredited teaching programme, such as a postgraduate certificate in higher education. Postgraduates who teach would also have to take an HEA-accredited course.

A “sector-wide profile” on the number of staff who have reached each level of the framework would be published by the HEA annually.

Meanwhile, training courses would have to meet more detailed requirements.

Read full story. An interesting story, as I look to complete my PGCLTHE, which I have found very helpful in enabling me to think about my own teaching practice, and those things that I can do differently, and enabling me to learn from others.

Scarce cash may foil lecturer training plan

HEA demands qualifications for new teachers, but universities fear the cost. Rebecca Attwood reports

Qualifications for new university lecturers are to become compulsory at a time when institutions will struggle to find the funding to support it, universities have warned.

Following recommendations made in the Browne Review, the Higher Education Academy has published plans to make the completion of an HEA-accredited training course mandatory for all postgraduates and probationary academic staff who teach.

It also proposes publishing annual data on the number of staff who reach each level of its national training framework, the UK Professional Standards Framework.

In a speech last month, Craig Mahoney, head of the HEA, highlighted inconsistencies in training. Universities did not always ensure that probationary staff completed a postgraduate certificate in higher education, even when the institution had made this a formal requirement, he said.

A teaching qualification for all…

Craig Mahoney says he’ll do things ‘differently and better’ to prove HEA’s value, Rebecca Attwood hears

The new head of the Higher Education Academy has vowed to convince vice-chancellors of the value of his organisation by making it more “efficient” and “focused” and by producing strong evidence of the impact of its work on the student experience.

In his first interview in his new post, Craig Mahoney also said he wanted to see every member of staff teaching in UK higher education qualified as a teacher, and the HEA taking on an international role.

Read full story. I’m currently undertaking my PGCLTHE.

PGCLTHE: Coaching Assignment

Below is the introduction to an essay I have just had returned from the module “Examining Professional Practice” for the PGCLTHE. The presentation, which I didn’t really have enough time to prepare for, gained me 55%, and the COACHING in Higher Education Essay 66%.

“Since the 1990s the field of coaching has grown in professionalism, and now affects most business sectors. As Parsloe and Leedham outline in their first chapter, coaching and mentoring have moved ‘From Marginal to Mainstream’ for anyone interested in people development. As the profession continues to evolve, professional bodies are emerging, including The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the International Coach Federation (ICF).[1] Having taught in Higher Education (HE) since 1998, I encountered professional coaching at a CIPD event,[2] and trained as a life coach in early 2009.[3] This assignment offers a reflective consideration of implementing coaching practices within learning and teaching practices in HE. With a particular interest in facilitating group work in seminars, the presentation considered how exploiting learning and personality styles, and offering encouragement, improves student engagement with the process. (Read the entire essay in Word.doc.

[1] Parsloe, E. & Leedham, M. Coaching and Mentoring: Practical Conversations to Improve Learning 2009 (2nd Ed), pp. 3-11

[2] Minter, T. ‘Personal Effectiveness’, CIPD, 2007

[3] Kerslake, D., Boyce, R., O’Donnell, A., Fogarty, C., Professional Coaching Certification Programme, ICF Accredited, The Kerslake Company, 2008-9″

Coaching for the PGCLTHE

Later today I will be giving the following presentation, which is an assignment towards my Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching. The event is being filmed as we experiment with possibilities for giving more than text feedback on events..

Once the event is over, I have until 1st April to provide a 1500 write-up, echoing the content in the presentation, but also taking into account questions/responses from the audience, which I anticipate to include most of the LTDU, within which I have my role as Blended Learning Fellow. I will then start work on my conference paper for the Hertfordshire Blended Learning Conference, which will count towards another assignment for the Blended Learning module (which I will be teaching next year). Over the summer I will then complete my portfolio in time for September submission… I can then look out for other personal development courses of interest, including training myself up as a PhD supervisor… I’ve really been enjoying supervising Final Year Projects, so it’s the next natural step, right?

Coaching in Higher Education: How Training as a life coach has affected the way I teach

Below is the abstract from a 20-minute presentation I will be giving on Wednesday as a part of my assessment towards my PGCLTHE. When the other assessments are complete, which they will be this summer, I will become a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Since the 1990s the field of coaching has grown in professionalism, and now affects most business sectors. Having taught in Higher Education since 1998, in 2009 I trained as a life coach. Drawing upon the work of Kerslake, Whitmore, Parsloe & Leedham, and Draper this presentation offers a reflective consideration of implementing coaching practices. With a particular interest in facilitating group work in seminars, the presentation considers how exploiting learning and personality styles, and offering encouragement, improves student engagement with the process.

Dr Bex Lewis”

If you are on campus on that day and are interested in attending, let me know!

Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

Enthusiastic Study GroupWell, you know me, I like to collect qualifications, but this one is pretty much compulsory nowadays within Universities, to become a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I started the course in February 2009, and have found all of the taught sessions really interesting, particularly once we start hitting “how do students learn”?, but in teaching so much, am not getting a huge amount of time to read around the subjects I’m doing, or complete my assignments (too busy marking other peoples!). So, what do I need to achieve, and by when, to become a FHEA?!

The Practice of Teaching in Higher Education
I attended all the courses on this last semester, arranged my mentor, kept a reflective journal and was observed in 3 teaching sessions (now that’s an interesting experience!). So now I “just” need to complete the 4000 word portfolio of practice! If I can do it for 5th March 2010, I could finish the entire course this year, otherwise it’ll be 25th September 2010!

The Practice of Teaching in HE
Learning and Teaching Portfolio (4000 words), organised/indexed for reader, with appendices
Initial Needs Analysis & Contextual Overview (1000 rough words, to reduce to 500)How current teaching position relates to:

  • Previous Experience
  • Qualifications
  • Aspirations
  • Skills
  • Developmental Needs
  • Rationale for 3 observed sessions
  • Plan for completing PGCLTHE
Evaluation & Reflection on Teaching (1200 words)

  • Evaluation/reflection on programmes of teaching in which involved.
  • Critical reflection on 3 observed teaching sessions.
  • Reflections: external comments, emerging understanding of effective teaching & how students learn, using generic/subject specific pedagogic lit.
  • Own judgement (expectations of competence/points for action): peer feedback, student feedback/module evaluations, literature.
  • Appendices:
    • Detailed session plans
    • Resource material from observed sessions
    • Comments by external observers
    • Student evaluations
Description, Analysis & Evaluation of Assessment Activities (600 words)

  • D, A, E of AA have participated in
  • How contributed to provision of feedback to assist student learning
  • Assessment results (formal/informal) – aid evaluation of effectiveness as a teacher.
  • ANALYSE/EVALUATE more than DESCRIBE, demonstrating understanding of assessment design & operation.
  • Broad overview of focus on one specific element
    • Student feedback
    • Pedagogic literature
  • Appendices can include:
    • Limited examples of assessments you have set.
    • Module results sheets
    • Examples of feedback on marking
Small Scale Learning & Teaching Project (1200 words)

  • Design/carry out small scale project, developing a specific aspect of teaching.
  • Theoretical understanding/practical implementation.
  • Identify project through discussions with tutor/mentor.
    • Developmental as an individual
    • Direct practical application to subject area.
    • Convincing rationale for need to change/develop practice
    • Underpinned by theory/literature
  • Evidence:
    • Student/College feedback
    • Literature (subject/pedagogy)
Agreed with Yaz: Focus in the area of CHOICE, affecting motivation, affecting CHOICE in engaging with seminars, etc. as a project!
Reflection on Learning and Development Activities (500 words)

  • Personal reflection on:
    • Own learning on the unit
    • Other developmental activities undertaken to support teaching whilst on the programme
  • Action Plan for CPD beyond the PG
  • Appendices can include:
    • Review & Development Meeting plan.

Examining Professional Practice

For February 2010, I need to have completed:

Part 1: Oral/Poster presentation, relevant professional enquiry, at small L&T event with others on course. (60%)

Part 2: Critical reflection on the feedback from other colleagues/tutors. 1500 words (40%)

No Assignment yet agreed

Using IT for Innovation in Learning

For April 2010, I need to complete:

Resource package, electronic or text, “suitable to meet the learning needs of an identified group of students, and a report justifying its design in relation to theoretical understandings of student learning”.  Contextualise how understanding/skills have developed, and demonstrate how utility of the resource will be judged. Report 2-4k

See p.18 for Guidelines/Criteria

Agreed with David: Evaluation of SkillsNet Project, including sessions with staff/students for feedback of the website.

I am also sitting in on “Context”, which has a lot to do with curriculum design, but don’t see the need to add another assignment to my list.