Drs Janet Strivens and Ian Willis from the Centre for Lifelong Learning have recently returned from Lahore, Pakistan where they were continuing the work of ‘Enhancing Learning and Teaching in Medical Education in Punjab’, Pakistan.
This was originally a British Council funded project and is now funded through Pakistan’s ‘Visiting International Scholars’ scheme. The project is based in the University of Health Sciences Lahore (UHS), which controls the assessment of most of the medical and dental colleges in Punjab. This gives them significant influence over the teaching practices of 40 affiliated institutions and so developments at UHS can spread throughout the province.
The project is becoming genuinely locally owned and sustainable. The focus this time was the Certificate in Medical Teaching – our development programme for teachers in medical and dental education. It concentrates on student-centred learning and on developing local skills in mentoring and facilitation.
We were there for a week, and in that time UHS had organised three classes running concurrently over four days and a further three concurrent classes in the following three days, with a total of 146 students. At one stage we needed 11 rooms for mini-presentations; so an organisational marvel. Plus we had Dr Shazia Iqbal, who has just completed her MSc in Medical Education at UoL, recounting her experiences – both academic and cultural – whilst in Liverpool and Dr Masood Jawaid’s workshops on Technology Integrated Learning in resource-poor countries. This was a treat in terms of how to use technology when institutions don’t have the learning technologists or strategies for using technology. We heard case studies from resourceful staff and a plethora of open source software in use in different parts of Pakistan in order to meet the same learning aims we have in the UK with all our facilities and skilled support.
The Educational Development Division is delighted to announce our third Doctorate in Higher Education (EdD). Dr Alicia Salaz had a successful viva in April. She works in the library of Carnegie Mellon University – Qatar. Her thesis is titled: International Branch Campus Faculty Member Experiences of the Academic Library.
She used phenomenography to investigate the perceptions and experiences of academic libraries by faculty members across a variety of disciplines working in international branch campuses. The main research question asked how faculty members experience the academic library, with the objective of identifying qualitative variations in experience within this group. The findings of her research addressed established practical problems related to library value and identity, and have implications for practice in both the development and evaluation of library services for faculty members, as well as communication about those services with faculty members.
Alicia acknowledges that:
“Four years ago I was, intellectually, a fundamentally different person” and that the work has represented a “personal transformation”.
One of the recommendations from a recent Internal Periodic Review of Educational Developments was that we should blow our trumpet more, letting University colleagues know how well we can support them in learning and teaching (L&T). So, I am taking this thinly disguised and uncharacteristic opportunity to do just that.
Ray Land and George Gordon have recently published a report on an HEA funded small scale international study on Teaching Excellence Initiatives. In it they debate teaching excellence and how it has broken out of the confines of individual HEIs to be linked to discussions of individual performance.
Land and Georges’ study looked at practice in promoting excellence in L&T. They acknowledge that excellence itself is contested and the quality of teaching, especially the difference between satisfactory and excellent, is hard to judge. HEI initiatives can, they argue, be described as moving from novice to expert, something like the way the UK Professional Standards Framework is described in four levels, and how our own ULTRA Framework is articulated.
The study points out that most UK, Australian and NZ Universities (at least) encourage or require academics to take a course in teaching as part of probation, thus aiming to ensure competence in teaching. Many HEI’s offer rewards for excellence in the form of prizes or funding to develop practice or even pay increments (proficiency level). Going beyond, advanced proficiency including teaching and expert status is rewarded with prizes, citations such as Vice Chancellor awards, National teaching Fellowships (we have five at Liverpool) or Principal Fellows (four at Liverpool) are classed as high recognition.
Does the way in which we conduct research into higher education matter all that much? For instance, research conducted by John Biggs on constructive alignment has had a significant influence on the sector. But did the way that he conduct this research affect the nature of his contribution to knowledge, or the uses to which it could be put?
I have recently written a research paper that addresses these issues. The paper was published in today within the Special Issue of the journal, Teaching in Higher Education, (Volume 20, Issue 4, 2015). The journal itself has now been in existence for 20 years, and this issue of the journal marks out the anniversary. The Special Issue comprises an article from each of the current Executive Editors of the journal, along with contributions from two former editors, Professor Sue Clegg and Professor Jon Nixon. Taken together the contributions highlight a range of different perspectives and approaches to research.
My contribution stems from a critical realist perspective, and argues that the approach taken to pedagogic research does indeed influence the characteristics of the knowledge that emerges, and the uses to which it can be put. There has been a longstanding assumption that higher education represents an emancipatory endeavour, but recent changes in the sector have emphasised the way that higher education can lead to personal advantage rather than to the fulfilment of wider social responsibilities. The study considers ways in which methodology in pedagogic research subsequently affects the sector’s emancipatory potential. There will be many ways in which student learning is affected.
Dr Kahn, who works in Educational Development, was awarded the Fellowship by a panel of peers, including an experienced external accreditor. Principal Fellowship is granted in recognition of extensive experience and impact at strategic level in relation to learning and teaching. Through his academic practice, Dr Kahn demonstrated successful leadership to enhance student learning across the University and beyond. His attainment of Principal Fellowship is a significant achievement.
Dr Kahn said:
“I am pleased to have secured this recognition. The panel commented on my thought leadership around educational innovation in higher education, accompanied by spheres of influence to facilitate change in delivery. I am keenly aware that any innovation requires dedication from many people. My attention is particularly taken up now with the University’s professional doctorate in higher education, but I will continue to promote ideas for educational innovation that disrupt and enhance existing practice (see @Peter_Kahn and on LinkedIn)”
ULTRA has been developed to provide an experience-based route to recognition of skills and expertise for any experienced member of staff that teaches or supports learning. Staff can apply to ULTRA in one of four categories, and Dr Kahn will be working alongside colleagues in Educational Development to encourage and support colleagues to apply for Fellowship through the ULTRA Framework.
Poster Day online has now been run as an alternative event to the campus Poster Day (an annual one-day event where Postgraduate Researchers showcase their work, this year held on the 26th of March) for seven years. Originally set up for off-site students, but with a now wider intake, we are expecting over 150 submissions this year, including both posters and videos. So as the two events diverge in focus further, what is the participants’ experience and what have we learnt from the online event format?
The statistics alone reveal a high degree of interaction, since all online discussions are recorded. In 2014, we had over 120 participants, who with visitors contributed over 1000 comments and responses, which together comprise an aggregate of over 91000 words. There were some very lengthy responses to questions, but it is probably not surprising that most PhD researchers are keen to respond to questions and discuss their research.
The event appears to show a strong sense of community. We do have an attendance requirement for formal completion, requiring participants to respond to at least two other posters, explicitly encouraging cross-faculty discussions which clearly helps to start the discussions. Examination of the data shows that over two-thirds of participants contribute in excess of the formal requirements, with 20% contributing six or more comments on other posters.
Many colleagues across the University will be aware of the University’s Access Agreement responsibilities. The challenge of evaluating our Access Agreement is huge, with no steer from HEFCE and the complexities presented in the many facets of our Access Agreement work . . . What form such an evaluation should take was a major headache.
Led by Dr. Mark O’Brien of the Centre for Lifelong Learning, working with Widening Participation champions from across the university as well as Educational Opportunities, the project has led to the development of an approach to evaluation which is at once appreciative and realistic aiming to inform our development as a university at strategic and operational level. The full report is available at http://www.liv.ac.uk/cll/reports, entitled ‘Widening Participation and Fair Access at the University of Liverpool by Dr Mark O’Brien’.
In this blog post I want to focus on the emerging theme of ‘the inclusive department’. By asking individuals and groups to identify what in their professional experience are the key features of apparently successful departmental activities, and then using rigorous data analysis, drilling down to local level, the evaluator was able to confirm, explain or expand on many such professional insights. The result is a list of features (some of which are found in most areas, while no department would boast all of them).
We are very pleased to have had our first graduate from the EdD, Rev Dr David Taylor, who is also a colleague here in the University.
The University first began its fully-online EdD programme in Higher Education nearly four years ago, in April 2011. The programme is run from here in the Centre for Lifelong Learning, in partnership with Laureate Online Education.
David attended the recent graduations in December in order to receive his doctoral degree. He is certainly highly positive about his experience on the programme, commenting for instance:
“Socially, the highlights have been the discussions and supervision, with friends and colleagues from around the world. Personally I have regained enthusiasm for learning. The biggest challenge has been to reorganise my life to make the space for the EdD – but I still write 3,000 words a week, which I never could before.”
The networking opportunities on the programme are intriguing, as it has attracted educators from more than 40 countries across the world. The participants on the programme come from a wide range of roles within higher education, and include senior institutional leaders, as well as lecturers, administrators and tutors.
Last week Harry and I launched the first of a series of workshops looking at digital literacies. What are they? How are we developing ours? And what should The University do to support us? Questions like these and more kicked off the first event with about 60 people in a bright new Guild building room.
You can read all about it in the Digital Literacies working group blog:
What was brilliant about the event was that the participants were staff and students all equally engaged with the same knotty digital issues. And, although different people find different solutions to the same sorts of challenges, it’s not about staff versus students, it’s more about what’s best in different work contexts.
The debate was noisy and enjoyable with more questions raised and more avenues opened up than we could cope with. The next event on 18th November will focus in a lot more when ‘Have you ever Googled yourself?’ and other questions about career and digital identity management come to the fore.
Experiences of internationalising learning and teaching was the subject of an excellent Continuing Professional Development (CPD) session hosted by the Centre for Lifelong Learning and delivered by Olivier Sykes, Urmila Jha-Thakur and Karen Potter from the Civic Design/Urban Planning department. Their work on their ‘International Planning Studies’ module has been recognised by the Association of European Schools of Planning by the award of the ‘Excellence in Teaching Prize’ 2014.
The session was titled Educating ‘world professionals’? – Experiences of internationalisation in the field of urban planning education at Liverpool, and centred on:
‘A Journey through Internationalisation from learner to teacher to researcher’
New module development
Underpinning concepts of internationalisation and ‘world professionals’
Reflections ‘from the chalk face’
Internationalisation of the Curriculum contributes to The University of Liverpool’s goals of providing students with the “ability to operate in culturally diverse contexts” and of “creating a distinctive and exciting learning environment for both international and UK students”.