New research finds link between high levels of HEA Fellowship and strong UKES teaching scores

Tuesday, 29 March, 2016

New analysis by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) establishes for the first time a positive link between institutional investment in a professional development programme for teaching staff aligned to the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPFS) and strong levels of engagement reported by students in the UK Engagement Survey (UKES).

The research, which has been independently verified by Dr Elena Zaitseva of Liverpool John Moores University, assesses UKES results at 24 higher education institutions and finds a statistically-significant relationship between high levels of HEA Fellowship and strong UKES scores. Rather than reported satisfaction, UKES measures student behaviours and their engagement with their learning, with the HEA’s research identifying correlation between Fellowship and both teaching and staff interaction.

Professor Stephanie Marshall, CEO of the HEA, said: “We’re delighted to see such a clear connection between our Fellowships and students being actively engaged with their learning.

“We’ve long been firm believers in the value of professional development in teaching, and in particular a nationally-benchmarked scheme based on the UKPSF. It’s exciting to see research that supports the value of focussing on teaching quality and gets to the very heart of what we do at the HEA.”

The principles of UKPSF support greater engagement between staff and students, and forms the basis of HEA accredited professional development programmes. The research uncovers statistically-significant correlation on a number of measures, including four specific engagement-related elements of the UKES, including how often students:

  • made significant changes to their to their work based on feedback;
  • worked with teaching staff on activities other than course work ;
  • examined the strengths and weaknesses of their own views; and
  • tried to better understand someone else’s views by imagining how an issue looks from their perspective.

Professor Marshall added: “The higher education environment is changing, and with the teaching excellence framework (TEF) around the corner, thoughts are understandably turning to ways to measure the value and impact of teaching quality. This kind of work is a great step towards establishing those TEF metrics.

“This research follows swiftly on from our recent announcement that institutions taking part in the UKES will have the option to include questions from the National Student Survey (NSS) for non-final year students this year – that pilot is another important step, and one which will help to measure the relationship between satisfaction and engagement as we prepare for TEF.”

The HEA has accredited professional development schemes at more than 145 institutions across the whole of the higher education sector, and has conferred Fellowship on more than 70,000 teachers across these institutions.

A copy of Dr Zaitseva’s analysis is available here.