It’s been exactly six months since my last post – an awfully long time in the blogosphere, but then I have been painfully busy. This year has been quite important...
In a recent blog post I shared advice I have been given from more established academic friends and associates who emphasised the need to be published in academic journals and to present at conferences in order to build your reputation within the academic community.
This week at a two-day teaching workshop for media and communications academics run by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) emphasis was placed on the importance of good learning and teaching skills and how teaching qualifications for higher education will take on increasing significance in the wake of higher tuition fees.
Only last month NUS president Liam Burns called on the government to make it a legal requirement for all university lecturers to have teaching qualifications. He argued that students paying tuition fees of up to £9000 a year want value for money and they feel that qualified lecturers make more effective teachers.
Reading through many of the comments posted in reply to the Guardian article, it is clear that this is an emotive issue among students. Some of the comments reflect a perception that lecturers are more interested in research and teaching is merely squeezed into a busy agenda with unqualified teaching assistants left to hold court.
I totally empathise with the anger and frustration of students who feel betrayed when the Lib Dems promised no fee increases prior to the election, only to renege once they became part of the coalition government. They are absolutely right to expect and insist on the highest standards of teaching and for them a teaching qualification is something tangible they can relate to.
I undertook training to teach in higher education in 2008 and gained a PG Cert in Teaching in HE. I feel that it was essential preparation for my role as a lecturer and definitely gives me a sense of confidence about my expertise as a teacher; as well as an understanding of teaching and learning approaches, methods and styles.
Whilst in the past there has been a disproportionate emphasis on research in terms of academic development I am convinced that the power of students will shift the trajectory onto excellence in teaching. As much as I love research I also have a passion for teaching and it feel that is entirely appropriate to have a transparent framework to benchmark learning, teaching and support roles in higher education. This is what the UK Professional Standards Framework, which was developed by the HEA is all about.
Despite already having a qualification to teach in higher education, in the autumn I will be continuing my professional teaching development on a MEd in Teaching and Learning in Higher education which is accredited by the HEA. Teaching effectively is an on-going process rather than a one-off event and that is why continuing professional development is so important in our profession.