Gaining recognition for high quality teaching – in a scholarly fashion?

Higher Education in the UK is in the process of undergoing a major shift. The Teaching Excellence Framework represents a sea change in the way that universities are funded. The framework seeks to assess the quality of teaching in universities, with metrics around student satisfaction, student employability and retention rates all central to the process.

While there are plenty of challenges associated with the framework, as I have made clear in a recent posting on the Telegraph Blog, it is also the case that universities will place a much keener emphasis on the calibre of their teaching staff. We can expect much greater interest in the Higher Education Academy’s Fellowships scheme, which seeks to recognise the commitment of staff to professionalism in learning and teaching in higher education.

As part of its wider strategy, the University is heavily promoting its in-house recognition and accreditation framework to enable staff to gain Fellowships with the Academy, ULTRA. In order to gain recognition under this scheme, staff need to prepare a claim against the criteria for the relevant level of Fellowship.

Clearly, one can engage in the process in different ways. For instance, one of the criteria for gaining a Senior Fellowship is as follows:

Successful co-ordination, support, supervision, management and/or mentoring of other colleagues (whether individuals and/or teams) in relation to teaching and learning.

It would be possible to compile evidence against this claim in a relatively straightforward fashion, perhaps demonstrating how someone whom you mentored went on to secure more positive course evaluations from their students; with other evidence aimed at a similar level.

What would it take, though, for someone to compile a claim for a Fellowship that considered how to re-frame or develop his or her approach to mentoring colleagues?

This is the sort of territory that a recent virtual special issue of the journal Teaching in Higher Education set out to address. The issue, which I co-edited, is entitled A scholarly basis for teaching practices in higher education.

The journal has long been committed to critically examining and interrogating the values and presuppositions that underpin teaching in higher education. The articles in the special issue were selected with a view to prompting this sort of criticality amongst those engaging with the HEA Fellowships.

Dr Peter Kahn PFHEA

Director of Studies, EdD in Higher Education