Academic Staff Development team holds first symposium


The Academic Staff Development (ASD) team at the University held their inaugural Academic Practice Symposium, “Going Public”, on Wednesday 13th April 2016 at The Orangery, Goldney Hall. This one-day event gave academics the opportunity to present on one or more aspects of academic practice and learn from colleagues.

The themes of the symposium reflected ASD’s integrated approach to academic development, bringing together three aspects of academic practice: Teaching and Learning, Research and Leadership. It was pleasing to see that sixteen schools across all of the faculties within the University were represented within the event. 

The symposium was introduced by Dr Alison Leggett, Head of Academic Staff Development and opened by Professor Judith Squires, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education & Students) who echoed the integrated approach to academic practice championed by the ASD team.

Keynote speaker Professor Ray Land

The Keynote speaker Professor Ray Land from Durham University gave a stimulating talk about Threshold Concepts which resonated with the delegates and was reiterated throughout the day in many presentations. Threshold concepts views learning as containing contested and troublesome knowledge and that some concepts/practices are portals that transform the student’s ways of thinking and practising within the discipline. 

Theme 1: Pedagogic research in Higher Education

The presentations within this theme were chaired by Dr Jane Pritchard, Academic Staff Development Manager and focused on academics sharing their completed or ongoing pedagogic research within their own teaching practice. Topics included the importance of giving useful and inclusive feedback, developing diverse teaching methods and advancing professional competencies.

Theme 2: Researcher development@Bristol

This session was chaired by Dr Terry McMaster, Director of the Bristol Doctoral College and featured speakers who shared their experiences of developing their own approaches to research, ensuring that colleagues could apply these examples to their own disciplinary context.  The presentations ranged from the benefits of working across cultures and disciplines to pitfalls not to fall into when building a research group.

Theme 3: Leadership of teaching

The invited academics in this session, chaired by Dr Alison Leggett, had been recognised by through the CREATE scheme as Senior or Principal fellows of the Higher Education Academy. They spoke about their involvement in course and programme development incorporating their experience in pedagogical research. Speakers tackled the teacher/student input balance and how to make change happen within education.

Theme 4: Pecha Kucha competition

Pecha Kucha takes its name from the Japanese term for “chit-chat”. The idea behind Pecha Kucha is to keep presentations concise and the interest level high. They do this by consisting of exactly 20 slides, each of which is displayed for 20 seconds. This innovative approach to presenting ensured an exciting and vibrant end to the symposium and the sheer variety of presentations was impressive and refreshing. The session was chaired by Professor Jeremy Tavare with Professor Dave Cliff and Julie Jupe as co-judges. After much deliberation, the competition was won by Dr Caroline Taylor. Dr Helmut Hauser’s presentation and Dr Browen Burton’s talk were both highly commended.

The event was closed by Professor John Iredale, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Health) who reiterated the variety of schools represented as well as the topics addressed.

The event was aided by the glorious weather and lovely setting of Goldney and this encouraged the networking that occurred over lunch and also during the drinks reception.

The ASD team’s next symposium will be on 23rd June 2016 and will be on Faculty Learning Communities, facilitated by Milton Cox.

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