Academic Staff Development Newsletter - May 2016

Welcome from Dr Alison Leggett, Head of Academic Staff Development

Welcome to our second quarterly Academic Staff Development (ASD) newsletter.

As you know our newsletters are themed around an area of academic practice: leadership, professional skills, research or teaching. This time we are focusing on learning and teaching, including news about an event we will be running this summer focused on faculty learning communities and a new teaching policy for research staff. We also have a report on our recent inaugural Academic Practice symposium which brought together research, teaching and leadership on one day.

Our next newsletter will focus on leadership and will be published in August. Don’t forget that you can browse all our events on our website and we welcome contributions to our newsletters so please get in touch if you have any comments or suggestions.

Dr Alison Leggett

Developing and enhancing innovative learning and teaching at Bristol - the potential of Faculty Learning Communities

Faculty Learning Communities (FLC) are a really interesting, and for the UK HE sector, novel approach to enhancing and developing learning and teaching. We already have our first FLC with the Engineering Education FLC (link here) set up by Colin Dalton. They are a great balance of ‘process and product’ for building practice around teaching innovations based on the scholarship of learning and teaching. Why are we talking about them now? - because we are delighted to announce that the ‘founder’ Dr Milton Cox is coming to Bristol on 23 June 2016 to run the FLC Symposium. This day will give you the opportunity to find out more about how they work and how to start your own. FLCs have great potential for driving and enhancing educational innovation at Bristol and we hope that you see the opportunity they afford us all in building community through action.

Teaching Policy for Research Staff

The level of recognition and value placed on the contribution research staff make to teaching was raised at the Research Staff Working party in 2015. There was concern about consistency of expectations and if there were appropriate support mechanisms to develop the teaching skills of research staff and to fully integrate them into the teaching activity of their School. Academic Staff Development were asked to write a Policy in consultation with research staff and other key stakeholders. The Teaching Policy for Pathway 2 Staff (PDF, 87kB) has now been endorsed by The Research Staff Working Party, Education Committee, UPARC and Senate with an expectation of implementation in the next academic year. The policy covers the following aspects: opportunities to teach; activities and responsibilities; training and support; and quality assurance. If you have any questions about implementation within your School please contact your Head of School or Head of Teaching. This policy will sit on the Academic Quality and Partnerships Office website with all other education policies.

About us

Academic staff development aims to enhance and support excellence in academic practice at Bristol across leadership, professional skills, research and teaching, working with staff across all three Academic Pathways.

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Spotlight On...The Academic Practice Symposium

In this edition we are featuring our Academic Practice Symposium that took place on 13 April.

This one-day event gave
academics the opportunity to present to peers on one or more aspects of their academic practice and to learn from colleagues.

It was a real success - if you couldn’t make it then this article will fill you in on what you missed.

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What We're Reading

Teaching to Enhance Research. This learning and teaching themed paper looks at Teaching-Led Research and argues for this being the primary way of viewing the research-teaching interface rather than research-led teaching. The author discusses a curriculum where students are positioned as researchers from day 1 of their studies. Harland, T. (2015). Teaching to enhance research. Higher Education Research &Development, 1-12. 


Team News

We are pleased to welcome two new team members. Staff Development Officer Louise Fisher, who will focus on the development of teaching and learning, and Staff Development Adviser Harry Cornish who will focus on supporting the CREATE CPD scheme. Congratulations also to Bethan Turner and Helena Hoyle who will be leaving the team to take on exciting new roles within the University.

Find out more about Louise and Harry.

What We're Doing

Education events at Plymouth University

On the 7-8 April, Jane Pritchard attended two one-day events at Plymouth University. The first was a national event looking at Effective Evaluation in Higher Education: moving beyond the happy sheet. Lots of good research-informed approaches to evaluation, especially of learning and teaching developments but of great applicability across the work of Academic Staff Development. Good to know that we are working with the latest approaches and that some of our plans for the future are recognised as good practice. On the Friday, Jane attended the Plymouth University 5th Annual PedRIO Conference and heard a range of educational research projects presented by the academics at Plymouth. The keynote, given by Dr Ian Scott (Oxford Brookes University) on the Introduction of the Grade Point Average (GPA) instead of undergraduate degree classifications was of particular interest. It left one wondering if percentage grades and the increased use of GPA in the UK HE sector is a good move for the sector and perhaps, as many felt in the room, that we should reduce the granularity in assessments and focus on validity and reliability of assessments foremost.

Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education: Sharing experiences and best practice

On 10 March Louise Fisher attended Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education at the King’s Learning Institute, London. This event was focussed on how academics can take action to ensure their programmes, from planning to teaching, are inclusive to all students by being aware of and removing barriers to participation and learning. It encouraged participants to get students involved in the development of programmes and resources to enable consideration of all diversity and inclusion needs. Speakers on the day shared experiences on topics including online inclusion, issues for disabled students and how to incorporate the perspectives of the visually impaired community. Overall it was an excellent day which was thought provoking and had implications not only in teaching but in Academic Staff Development’s own practice.

We have also attended professional networking groups this quarter – Alice Scott went to the Staff Development forum meeting in February and Claire Wrixon went to the Vitae regional meeting in March.


What Academic Staff Development did for me...

Colin Dalton is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science, specialising in visual effects and animation production and he is the Undergraduate Faculty Education Director (FED) for the Faculty of Engineering. Newly appointed to the role of FED, Colin contacted Academic Staff Development to explore ideas to develop collaborative interdisciplinary discussions about the future of learning and teaching. He heard Jane Pritchard speak at a Faculty pedagogy event where she introduced Milton Cox’s model of a Faculty Learning Community. This led Engineering to launch their first Cohort Faculty Learning Community in June 2016.

Find out more.

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning - a sector wide study

In 2015 Academic Staff Development (ASD) along with 3 other UK universities won the tender from the HEA to conduct a 6-month research project into – Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL): A sector wide study. One of our main motivations for being involved in this project was to think more broadly about how ASD can support and enhance the scholarship aspect of pathway 3 roles but also recognise that SoTL is an appropriate way forward for a research-intensive institution to build and enhance its learning and teaching practices across all teaching roles.

Find out more.