Emily joined the staff at Harper Adams as a Project Coordinator in 2006. In 2008, Emily was appointed Business Development Manager where she co-developed a number of animal- and veterinary related courses. Emily’s commitment to enhancing practice is illustrated by her successful completion of postgraduate teaching and learning qualifications. In 2012, Emily took up an academic post and achieved Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in May 2015. To date, Emily’s excellent practice has been recognised through the ASPIRE Excellence Awards (in 2008-9, for Sharing and Developing Excellence and in 2015-16, for Innovating and Sharing Excellent Practice). This year (2017/18) Emily is working on an internally funded Aspire Development Fellowship exploring the drivers and barriers to teaching excellence.
I read the Times Higher Education (THE) supplement. Even though I’m keen to access latest news via social media platforms, I enjoy holding a paper copy of this particular publication. When I read about the planned Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), it got me thinking about how the impact of my own practice might be captured in this system and like the studious learner I have tried to be for as long as I can remember, I set about firming up staff development activities for this academic year.
I felt that I needed to increase my understanding of the challenges within the sector from outside of my own institution. The Higher Education Academy (HEA) Teaching Excellence Programme (TEP) stood out as a highly relevant external developmental opportunity which explored a number of the key issues currently playing out in undergraduate and postgraduate provision; the TEF, assessment and feedback, student success and retention and (to come on my next trip up to York in two weeks’ time) employability.
From my perspective as a lecturer within a specialist agri-food institution, one of the challenges faced by higher education (HE) providers is market profile to which league tables and benchmarking frameworks such as TEF and National Student Survey (NSS) contribute.
The TEP Masterclass on assessment and feedback was prominent for me as a practitioner, given that these aspects of the student experience have historically achieved low scores in the NSS.
Thinking forward, in order for our future students to experience higher quality assessment and feedback practice, collectively we need to understand the potential impact of early actions to retain students on course and the second TEP Masterclass took us some way to exploring that.
Whilst I have seen benefits from the action learning sets utilised within the TEP sessions so far, the argument against attending TEP may include cost – with budgets across the sector being trimmed.
Readers can initially find out more about the TEP here and get involved in the discussion via Twitter @HEA_TEP
In terms of how the HEA can help - offer more places on each course and more courses per year. There have been five other participants sat alongside me, but think of the the wider impact and value possible should reach be extended. To sum up….my call to action is two-fold; firstly, academic staff with responsibilities for course or module delivery should try to get involved in this staff development opportunity and secondly, ask yourself how exploration of other student experience issues would benefit you, your department, your subject area and critically, your students, by your engagement with a course such as TEP.
We're now into the New Year. As I reflect back on last term, I feel positive about how the TEP has focused my writing of assignment briefs which provide scope for student co-creation and hence engagement and hopefully retention. Next Tuesday, I start my teaching for this term; a postgraduate Workforce Development module on which I lead and where we use a range of technologies to enhance the student experience and optimise access. My appreciation of the complexity of issues such as assessment, access, retention and employability has been strengthened as a result of the TEP - particularly the latter which in Workforce Development is put to the test as soon as the students return to work – whether that is after the lunch break or that night if they are on call.
That’s all great….and whilst I can share my experiences and re-run the group activities that we did during the TEP with colleagues back in my own institution, that isn’t where TEP stops for me. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a group of peers who enjoy making a difference within their professional roles as much as I do and we have plans underway to undertake a collaborative project together this year which will explore the drivers and barriers to teaching excellence. This has scope to benefit individual, departmental and institutional practice - Happy 2018 folks! Here’s to enhancing the student experience by strengthening our community of practitioners!