Teaching Innovation Awards Dissemination Event 2013

Friday saw the Teaching Innovation Awards Dissemination Event 2013. The event was held to celebrate the completion of the projects originally awarded in 2012 and completed by July 2013. The lunchtime event began with an introduction from the Pro- Vice- Chancellor (Teaching) Professor Morag Bell. The seven winners then gave short summaries of their projects with findings and implications in 5 minute presentations. Projects included:P1020234

Dr Alexandre Christoyannopoulos: SSPGS/ PHIR “Student Buddies: Developing a Sustainable Peer-Mentoring Scheme in Politics, History and International Relations”

Dr Thomas Jun & Dr Thomas Page: Design School “Lego-based learning initiative for systems design and ergonomics teaching – efficiencies in teaching through the use of technology (Lego Mindstorms NXT: programmable robotics kit)”

Dr Robert Knight: School of SSPGS/ PHIR “Linking the local to the international: embedding oral history and eyewitness accounts into the curriculum”

Dr Debra Lilley, Dr Val Mitchell & Ian Storer: Design School “Electronic Group Logbooks for Design Students: Creating Efficiencies in the Assessment of Visual Coursework”

Dr Hilary McDermott & Fehmidah Munir: SSEHS “E-Qual: Developing a reusable e-learning object for efficient teaching of qualitative coding”

Dr Alistair Milne: SBE “Using Learn Wikis for discussion and development of multifaceted topics by a large enrolment class.”

Prof Chris Szejnmann: SSPGS/ PHIR “Transferable technology and interactive and learner-centred activities in the History programmes”


Being fairly new to the Teaching Centre I had heard a lot about the Teaching Innovation Awards and had a rough idea of the kinds of things taking place, but this event really opened my eyes as to how much these awards can mean to the University, with good practise in these projects being shared. There were a number of the initiatives from the awards that I felt could be replicated in other programmes and even across the University.

In addition I noticed a theme running throughout the projects that is close to my heart- student engagement. Many of the projects had either an end goal of increased student engagement or this had been a product of the project without being the main aim to begin with.

I personally really enjoyed the dissemination event, the turn-out was great and I look forward to learning more about this year’s award winners and the 2014 applications.

A big thanks to Dr Katryna Kalawsky and Dr Diane Beale for organising the event.

HEA announce publication following research into teaching excellence

HEA logoThe Higher Education Academy announced on 8th October that it is publishing the results of its research into teaching excellence.

The statement by the Chief Executive of the HEA, Prof Stephanie Marshall that “…an agreed definition of what constitutes teaching excellence would be very useful in the sector” seems innocuous enough but raises important questions about the generic versus the discipline specific nature of teaching and learning. Whilst the HEA research seems designed to create a framework of reference for us all to consider our teaching against, it is also vital that we as a sector are not drawn towards a notion that there is one model of good teaching. The local context is vital. This is made more important when we consider the second part of Professor Marshall’s statement, that “A framework for teaching excellence could have many functions. It could be used, for example, to inform reward and recognition schemes and promotional routes for staff who teach in higher education institutions.” This seems dangerous ground unless any nationally agreed framework for teaching excellence allows for local interpretation and discipline-specific flexibility. After all if we wanted to have a one-size-fits-all approach which allowed an outside agency to make swift judgements about the ability of a teacher to teach and of an institution to manage the learning of those it had responsibility for without fully taking into account the local context and the individual needs of the learner, we could always ask Ofsted!

To be fair, the report itself – a literature review of the evidence currently available – does recognise the need for different “conceptualisations” of teaching excellence and does make a plea for time to “experiment, imagine and innovate”. It also warns of the dangers around the use of “learning analytics” to make judgement about teaching excellence and student learning. As might be expected, the report also calls for more research to help create a “shared repertoire around teaching and teacher excellence”. However, as is often the case in the education sector, policy makers are often deaf to the nuances being advocated by the research and try instead for a simple solution which seems superficially to cover all situations but runs the risk of satisfying none. Read the report yourself and let us know what you think (download from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/Teaching_Excellence/TELR-final.pdf .)