This is the second update on the HEA’s external examining project being managed by HEFCE on behalf of the devolved administrations to explore, across all four nations, sector-owned processes focusing on professional development for external examiners.
Professional development course
Work has continued apace on the first strand of the project: working with a range of higher education providers to design and pilot a generic professional development course for external examiners. The course has been designed and piloted with three of the higher education providers: the University of Liverpool, Oxford Brookes University and the Royal Northern College of Music. The feedback from participants has been extremely positive and constructive, and has informed modifications of the content and its delivery for the second stage institutional pilots taking place between March and May 2017 at Queen’s University, Belfast, Cardiff Metropolitan University and the University of Edinburgh.
Regional pilots of the course will also be held in Birmingham, Edinburgh, London and Cardiff during March and May, which are open to any external examiner. These courses have filled up rapidly. More are planned in year two of the project.
The course involves 2-3 hours of preparatory work (available online) and a group based face-to-face day. Senior colleagues from the higher education providers have been invited to observe the course delivery in order to facilitate later roll-out across the institutions via the provision of a ‘develop the developer’ course.
Work has also commenced on the development of an online version of the course. The development will be informed by the evaluation of the delivery of the institutional pilots, with the course being piloted from June 2017.
As a result of the dissemination of news about the project, a significant number of other higher education providers have expressed interest in joining the series of pilots or getting engaged as soon as possible with the roll-out of the professional development provision.We will be writing very shortly to each of these ‘early adopters’ individually to explain the implications of engagement and projected timings
The second strand of the project involves the exploration of different forms of calibration exercises with subject associations and Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs). A calibration workshop has been run successfully with piloting subject associations and professional bodies. This explored the different ways in which external examiners can come together to develop a shared understanding of academic standards in their discipline. Since the workshop detailed discussions have taken place between a dedicated member of the project team and the subject association or professional body to determine how to create (or use existing) community processes to establish, share and develop an agreed understanding of standards.
These will take different forms with each of the piloting bodies:
The Royal Geographical Society
The English Association
The Veterinary Schools Education Group
The Health and Care Professions Council
These include workshops at national conferences and the development of external examiner toolkits. Detailed discussions are under way with a range of other disciplines that wish to join the project and a second calibration workshop is planned for these new representative bodies.
The project team is undertaking a wide range of dissemination activities, including briefing sector bodies (e.g. the Quality Assurance Agency; the Scottish Teaching Quality Managers Forum; the Quality: Strategy: Network) and taking part in external examiner induction programmes held by institutions.
The project has benefitted significantly from advice from the HEA’s Project Board and from a meeting with the Standing Committee (convened by HEFCE and representative of the four nations and sector bodies) to which the project reports.
For further information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Further details about the project are available here