01 SES 16 B, Towards a European Certificate of Teaching Excellence? Preliminary Mapping of Higher Education Approaches to Promoting and Rewarding Teaching Excellence
An important element of the process of moving towards a genuine European Higher Education Area is not only the mobility of students and mutual recognition of study credits by universities, but also a shared and common minimum understanding of the core elements of ‘what makes a good university teacher and PhD supervisor/mentor?’. This is important for at least three reasons. First, it could contribute to the build-up of common teaching excellence standards, converging towards European and international excellence, and reducing inequality in accessing quality education between the different national contexts. Second, it could facilitate the removal of mobility barriers, fragmentation and inefficiencies in the higher education labour market. The fact that, for example, newly hired academic personnel in the Netherlands must complete the Dutch Basic Teaching Qualification scheme (BKO) within two years of appointment, irrespective of the candidates’ prior teaching experience or knowledge can in some cases lead to barriers in the higher education labour market. Conversely, the fact that some European countries have no formal higher education teaching qualification scheme poses questions about the coherence of the European Higher Education Area in the realm of teaching standards. Third, the development of a common framework for teaching excellence, could be used to root and promote the values of inclusiveness, diversity and innovation in education and beyond.
Teaching excellence can have a significant positive impact on student and societal's progression and wellbeing. Yet, though many higher education institutions in Europe have taken important steps towards training and rewarding teaching excellence, this practice is not systematically prioritized or nurtured through training activities and award schemes. Another important challenge of developing and promoting teaching excellence schemes concerns coherence and consistency: there is great variation, between and within European higher education institutions, in how teaching excellence is defined, what it involves, how it is promoted and rewarded. Moreover, the recent effects of the Covid-19 crisis and its implications for the fast adoption of online and remote teaching across all universities in Europe has added to the need for reflecting on teaching excellence across BA/MA/PhD levels with and without the help of technologies. There is thus a need for mapping the current state of how universities and national authorities define, train, promote and reward ‘teaching excellence’ and to map the extent to which different universities and national authorities follow standardised teaching qualification schemes.
With the objective of identifying commonalities between teaching excellence programmes in European universities, the study that we presents maps the different definitions of teaching excellence and existing schemes. The objective is to promote exchanges and critical reflections on what makes a good teacher and on the methodologies that can be used to train teaching excellence. The study has seen the collaboration of four European universities, one non-governmental organization and an association of universities.
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