ASPIRE Symposium 2013

On 13 September I attended a symposium at the University of Exeter that aimed to provide an opportunity to share practice in relation to the continuing professional development of staff who teach (ASPIRE is the name of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme at Exeter).

As the member of the Educational Development team who is leading on the implementation of the University of Liverpool Teaching Recognition and Accreditation (ULTRA) Framework, it was interesting to hear how colleagues are addressing CPD in their own institutions. The focus of the day was the successful implementation of accredited CPD schemes, and there was a lot of interesting discussion and debate in the breakout sessions. One of the main themes was the need to explore ways in which staff can evidence excellence in teaching, and the role that a CPD Framework can play in supporting staff to do this effectively. Other key issues included:

  • the importance of ensuring that Frameworks for CPD are located firmly within existing University structures
  • the need to involve all staff who support learning and teaching, including lecturers, professional services staff and technical support staff
  • the potential for recognition through accredited CPD Frameworks to be linked to promotion criteria

The universities represented at the symposium are at varying stages of the development and implementation of their CPD schemes. Some are at the early stages of gaining support for the idea from senior management, while others had recently had their scheme approved at institutional level, and accredited by the Higher Education Academy (HEA). Here in Liverpool, the details of the ULTRA Framework are being finalised currently, and we have been working with a small group of staff to ensure support will be available within each Faculty. We hope to submit our Framework for HEA accreditation this semester, and to recruit the first cohort of applicants for ULTRA Fellowship soon. Please contact me at the Centre for Lifelong Learning if you would like further Information.

Janis McIntyre, ULTRA coordinator, Educational Development Division, Centre for Lifelong Learning

The Academic Advisor

The University has recently approved an updated Academic Advisor Framework. As highlighted in the Student Charter, all students at the University of Liverpool will be assigned a named academic member of staff as their Academic Advisor.

An associated handbook for Academic Advisors has also been produced which describes the role of the Academic Advisor and outlines the additional support that will be offered within schools and departments. The handbook has been developed by colleagues from the Centre for Lifelong Learning, in consultation with academic staff, professional services staff and representatives from the Liverpool Guild of Students. It sets out the minimum engagement expected by Academic Advisors. Schools and departments will provide supplementary information on the additional support provided to students and to academic advisors within their discipline. The handbook will be updated to include this information.

A new web page on Academic Advising is available on the Educational Development website at:

The website includes:

  • A link to a brief video introduction on the role of the Academic Advisor.
  • A copy of the Academic Advisor Handbook 2013-14. School specific versions of the handbook will be made available from this web page.
  • Information on the range of academic and additional support services that are offered to students at department, school and institutional level.

Self-Directed Learning in Health Programmes

Last week a multidisciplinary group of health professionals gathered in the School of Health Sciences to explore how clinical placement practice enables and encourages students to become Self-Directed Learners.  A third-year student group also participated sharing their perceptions and experience of this learning approach.

The University hosts this annual CPD event, which is co-ordinated by the School of Health Sciences Practice Placement Working Group. The event is for Practice Educators, Clinical Tutors, Mentors and Practice Education Facilitators, who work with Health Sciences colleagues to mentor, support and assess Health Sciences students when they are on placement in clinical practice across the region.

We started by considering key principles, characteristics and frameworks of Self-Directed Learning.   Implications for academic practice included an exploration of learning activities and assessment practice, facilitated by Elspeth McLean, Staff Development Office and Jaye McIsaac, Educational Developer. The session was well received and evaluated by a group of engaged and enthusiastic participants, who said they enjoyed the focus of the presentations, the contributions of the students, and the opportunities for discussion of key issues with colleagues and students. This is a good example of how the University can develop and share good practice, learning from our wider educational communities, impacting programme design and practice.

First students reach the thesis stage of the University’s EdD

The University launched a fully-online Doctor of Education (EdD) programme in Higher Education in April 2011. Today, a group of 15 students from the first cohort on the programme embark on their practitioner research thesis. Many congratulations to these students who have reached this stage in their studies! The first group includes two members of staff at the University itself.

Each of these students will write a 40,000-50,000 report that chronicles an original piece of practitioner research in higher education. They will each be supported by two supervisors, one of whom is a member of staff at the University. The thesis is expected to take between one and two years for a student to complete.

The online EdD is offered by the University in partnership with Laureate Online Education. There are now around 250 students active on the programme, making it one of the largest EdDs in the country, and the largest such programme that is specifically focused on the study of higher education. Students on the programme come from across the entire world.

Dr Peter Kahn, Director of Studies, EdD