A new HEA-funded report ‘Teaching in the disciplines’ will be released as part of a globally available webinar on 21 October.
Based on interviews with deans from a range of UK universities, the report produced by LSE Enterprise for the HEA, provides a snapshot of different conceptions of what constitutes good teaching practice at discipline level and exemplifies the challenges facing the architects of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).
Professor Stephanie Marshall, CEO Higher Education Academy said:
“This report is extremely timely as sector thoughts are turning to planning of a discipline or subject-level TEF to follow the institution-level assessment.”
Academics have welcomed the increased profile and priority teaching now has within institutions as result of TEF but the report reaffirms that there is no universal agreement on what excellent teaching looks like.
Professor Stephanie Marshall, commented:
“Particular disciplines have distinctive ways of teaching and facilitating learning, referred to as ‘signature pedagogies’, which might mean that the criteria for judging teaching excellence at institutional level cannot easily be applied at discipline level or that common criteria cannot be applied to all disciplines.
“The challenge is to get the assessment of teaching quality right and the danger which has been highlighted by the deans interviewed, is that, the ‘wrong measures’ could provide perverse incentives, which could damage, or at least not enhance, higher education provision.
“The HEA will continue to work hard through its Pro-Vice Chancellor and Deans’ networks to facilitate a positive dialogue between institutions and policy-makers to ensure that the TEF achieves its laudable ambitions.”
The researchers found great variety in approaches to teaching between vocational and professional courses and more traditional, academic courses.
The findings show that vocational courses tended to focus more on soft skills in order to prepare students for future job roles which may fall outside their field of study, which may raise questions about the direct correlation of job outcomes with subjects, while academic courses had a greater emphasis on developing knowledge using more traditional pedagogic methods.
One of the key recommendations from the report is that, within the disciplines, there is more to do to adapt to, and recognise, the changing and more diverse nature of students entering higher education and the changing and uncertain futures they face.
The authors, Professor John Brennan from the LSE and Dr Andrea Abbas from the University of Bath, LSE Enterprise said:
“Increasing diversity of higher education provision is necessary and needs to be recognised and reflected in differences in the qualities of different disciplines, types of institutions and types of graduates.”
The webinar will begin at 12:30GMT on Friday 21 October and will be led by Dr Ben Brabon, HEA’s Academic Lead for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences with Professor John Brennan from LSE Enterprises and Dr Andrea Abbas from the University of Bath.