22 SES 09 A, Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education
This study explores policies, plans, processes and perceptions relating to the reward and recognition of teaching in one UK Russell Group University. In a University where the stated intentions of the senior management team are to create parity of esteem for teaching and research, the study considers the question: ‘is there parity of esteem for teaching and research in the enactment of promotions policies and processes?’
It is undoubtedly a challenge to integrate teaching criteria into promotions pathways in universities that have traditionally been research-focused. Finding ways to reflect the complex nature of academic career profiles, and to ensure equivalence in the evidence required for promotion by different routes, is challenging. In the assessment of research excellence, contributions are measured through publications, grant income and evidence of esteem and impact. Given the multi-faceted nature of teaching and teaching-related activities in higher education, measures of assessment of excellence may be highly variable across institutions, faculties, disciplines and levels.
The study presents data on promotions applications and outcomes at one university and explores the perceptions of the academic community about whether teaching is recognised and rewarded at this institution. The data suggests that ‘good’ teachers do get promoted. However the perceptions of participants suggest that there is both scepticism about the potential for good teachers to achieve recognition and reward and a lack of awareness about available support for teaching award applicants, about the range evidence that might be presented by teaching award applicants, and about the statistical evidence on actual success rates of such applications.
The paper problematises notions of ‘good ‘ teaching represented in the international literature, in promotion criteria at the case study institution, and in the UK Professional Standards Framework and National Teaching Fellowship scheme. Skelton (2004, p452) suggests that teaching excellence is ‘a contested concept which is historically and situationally contingent,’ closely connected to social, economic and political drivers and influenced by educational discourses and ideologies. This paper argues for a reframing of criteria for teaching awards to enable more sophisticated forms of evidence of teaching excellence and expertise to be presented, recognised and rewarded. To accurately reflect excellence and expertise in teaching, a flexible framework is required which is not over-reliant on metrics. We propose a set of descriptors, and a mix of evidence that will differ for each individual and level, from lecturer to senior lecturer to professor.
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