New Academics’ Experiences of Induction to Teaching: An Activity Theory Approach

SEDA Research and Evaluation Small Grants Project Abstract

This project explores how staff are supported with their induction to teaching, particularly in disciplines and departments. It involved educational developers working in 6 departments of a post-92 university, which has historically valued professional practice and teaching, however, more recently the emphasis has been on research excellence. Continue reading

Tensions around decolonising teaching and learning

The topics of decolonising curricula, decolonising universities, and decolonising teaching and learning generally have sparked much debate in recent times. This blog post looks at some of the tensions around the subject of decolonising to broadly consider why it is a topic that has divided opinion among those in Higher Education. Continue reading

First SEDA Conference: Reflections of an early career educational developer

This blog is probably more useful for newcomers to SEDA, because those who know SEDA have long understood that the event is relaxed, welcoming, and very useful. Like the areas of activity in an HEA fellowship application, I’ll deal with each of these in turn. Continue reading

Taking back space: Episode 1

At a risk of stating the blindingly obvious: teaching in higher education is changing: ‘The idea of the (largely) autonomous expert concerned in some measure with learning for knowledge, self-formation, citizenship or, even, democracy has been challenged […] to provide a new orientation to teaching and learning in universities’ (Jones, 2014:4). The introduction of workloads, to bring about equity and transparency, has contributed to the reduction of the role of the academic to tasks that can be quantified. This has been compounded by the marketisation of HE where every hour has a price tag. The unquantifiable value of space makes it, therefore, anathema to a marketised system. Preparation time is factored in to the workload calculation, but space to think, reflect and be creative cannot be quantified in this way. Workloads have no space for space.  This has resulted in a squeeze on all academic resources and an erosion of ‘space’ which traditionally afforded staff the opportunity for collegiality, a space in which to provide one another with ideas and share good practice in an informal but productive manner. The notion of space here goes beyond the notion of physical space to include temporal space; contractual space; third space; space to reflect; space for collegiality; space for innovation and creativity and space for individual and collective wellbeing. As one interviewee in a recent study suggested: Continue reading

Evaluation of the Scottish Higher Educational Developers (SHED) inter-institutional peer observation of teaching scheme

SEDA Research Grant Project 2018-2019

The SHED inter-institutional peer observation of teaching (POT) scheme was introduced in September 2017 to encourage sharing of teaching practice and discussion of educational development practice between individuals across the 19 higher education institutions in Scotland. We used the term peer observation of teaching, but we interpreted ‘teaching’ broadly to encourage colleagues to offer feedback and mentorship to colleagues on a whole range of online and face to face teaching, explore educational development resources, plans and workshops and to have discussions about challenges in practice. Continue reading

Teaching observations, teaching quality and grading: ‘A huge can of worms’

“Lee” had completed the PGCert HE (Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education) with Fellowship of the HEA. And had been awarded an “A” grade (Summative submissions on the Ravensbourne PGCert Units are graded A-E. The PGCert at Greenwich is pass/ fail only). As the PGCert Course Leader, I, Virna, should have rejoiced. Yet I felt disappointed. I felt I had actually failed her. Because I knew that she had strategically fulfilled all the assessment elements and fully met the criteria, but I could not avoid concluding that her teaching practice was weak. She had an A PGCert but her teaching was far from being A standard. The discomfort I felt prompted me to turn to my SEDA colleagues. In February 2019, I posted this question on the SEDA Jiscmail group: Continue reading

Transform to learn: the need to combine theory and practice in the curricula

On Monday 16th September, I attended the “Learn to Transform: The Pedagogic Revolution” event at the University of Sussex (UoS). As a recent graduate in Anthropology and International development from UoS and Students’ Union community organiser volunteer, I was keen to find out about this revolutionary approach and what it means for students’ academic performance. The event invited academics and professional services colleagues from across the University to start a pedagogical revolution through direct engagement in a range of activities and workshop sessions, such as the co-creation of inclusive curricula and outdoor learning ideas, in addition to, inspirational talks and technology use throughout the day. Continue reading

Developing the Characteristics of Expertise in Teaching in Higher Education

For a number of years I have been interested in ‘ways of thinking and practising’ (WTP) in academic disciplines (e.g. McCune & Hounsell, 2005). As an educational developer this led to considering what might be the WTP of teaching in higher education (HE). The extensive literature on the characteristics of expertise (e.g. Ericsson et al, 2006) provided me with some interesting food for thought in terms of how we might conceptualise WTP. In addition to being a thought-provoking theoretical consideration, there could be practical implications for educational development: if we can better understand the WTP and expertise characteristics of teaching in HE this may then help inform the enhancement of educational development (Kreber et al, 2005; Saroyan & Trigwell, 2015). Continue reading

Encouraging critical practice in curriculum delivery

One of the challenges we are often faced with as educational developers is supporting academics to engage as critical agents in the design of delivery right from the start of their teaching careers. The study by Daniela Jaklová Střihavková approaches the issue from the perspective of Social Work, and describes an intervention by the author to support students in developing an early appreciation of key concepts in Social Work and in particular how to relate their learning to Social Work practice and problems, as well as developing specific academic skills for essay writing. Students were first years drawn from Czech and Slovak backgrounds, and taught in Czech. Continue reading

Active engagement in class can encourage active engagement before class

In her chapter, Natália Gachallová considers a familiar challenge: how to encourage students’ engagement with pre-class preparation. This is one of the more common issues I hear from academics, and one perhaps more acute for PhD students like Natália. They may feel they have limited power over the rest of the course and what happens outside their class, yet are frequently teaching the small classes where such preparation is expected so often. Continue reading