New lecturers 2: Professional development

New lecturers

Introduction

The English Subject Centre is one of the 24 Centres of the subject network of the Higher Education Academy. We work closely with our colleagues at York to support and develop learning and teaching in our subject communities (which span the range of Literature, English Language, and Creative Writing). Through the subject associations (particularly University English), and its own contacts, the English Subject Centre has a strong and developmental relationship with the university English community across the UK.

These pages have been written with the leaders of HE Academy Accredited Programmes in mind. We are aware that it is not always simple for colleagues in university centres for Educational Development / Academic Practice to access or evaluate information about the provision made by Subject Centres for the development of newly-appointed academic staff. These pages highlight the range of provision offered by the English Subject Centre in a form readily accessible for use in HE Academy accredited programmes.

In particular, we map our provision for recently appointed staff onto the UK Professional Standards Framework.

The Pool, our collection of open educational resources for professional development will soon be available.

Resources for recently appointed lecturers

The English Subject Centre hopes that recently appointed lecturers will make their own increasing use of our website and other resources. Those resources include our printed publications, and our programme of workshops and events. Resources available on the web site include case studies, reports on departmental projects, our interactive web collection of teaching ideas Teaching Texts and Topics (T3), and our Teaching Library. Like the Higher Education Academy Website, the Subject Centre site provides a gateway to a vast range of resources. Our Newsletters and copies of our printed reports are sent to all English departments and subject groups. If for some reason colleagues are not receiving these, they should contact the Subject Centre directly.

Broadly speaking, we suggest that attendance at selected events, coupled with reading among our materials can be woven together by individuals (for example in their assessed portfolios) to form a powerful subject-specific supplement to the training they undertake within accredited programmes. With a view to continuing professional development, we are exploring the feasibility of issuing certificates outlining event content to those attending events.

Professional Standards

One way of describing what the English Subject Centre seeks to achieve in these training conferences would be to map them onto the Professional Standards Framework (pdf 212kb) We also hope that doing so might make it easier for participants to articulate to the accredited course in their home HEI what they undertook in the Subject Centre event.

All Subject Centre events are informed by the statement of professional values. Our ethos is one of learning through partnership. And in terms of ‘core knowledge’, the Conference (like other Subject Centre events) seeks to explore ‘appropriate methods for teaching and learning in the subject area’, as well the ‘use of appropriate learning technologies’. The six areas of activity provide a framework for explaining the aims and process of the event:

Mapping our events onto the Professional Standards Framework

1. Design and planning of learning activities and / or programmes of study

With guidance from course leaders, participants work through a carefully designed sequence of activities which enable them to explore – in quite practical ways – the dimensions and meanings of teaching and learning in their subject. The conference leaders aim to model good practice in course design. Participants are invited to explore the relations between learning activities at the different levels of the programme, the module, and the individual session.

2. Teaching and / or supporting student learning

As indicated above, the conference leaders aim to model good practice in course design. But they are also open to feedback. They seek to demonstrate professional judgment in taking decisions to change direction, or to seek consensus. This helps throw light on the meaning and responsibilities of the teaching role, and on the importance both of structure and of being willing, where necessary, to abandon that structure. Participants have the opportunity to explore the idea that support for learning needs to go beyond planning teaching occasions to encompass the whole environment in which students learn.

3. Assessment and giving feedback to learners

We seek to demonstrate the need for effective assessment to be integrated within the total learning environment that a module or seminar leader seeks to create. In other words, we incite participants to view assessment and giving feedback holistically. A strong element here (and one which is sustained through a range of Subject Centre resources) is the importance of offering varied forms of assessment, and of not simply falling back on default models.

4. Developing effective environments and student support and guidance

Engagement with the New Lecturer programme enables participants to demonstrate practical understanding of the design and development of programmes. The ethos of the Subject Centre is one where students are seen as partners in the learning process. But also where teachers have the responsibility of building environments where that partnership can be most productively experienced.

5. Integration of scholarship, research and professional activities with teaching and supporting learning

Most (though not all) participants are early career scholars, who have recently emerged from the intensive process of writing their PhD. One of the aims of the training conference is to help them to envisage their specialism pedagogically, aligning what they have learnt in terms of subject knowledge and research skills with the forms of enquiry that they themselves want students to undertake. Participants are guided  towards seeing the commonalities and synergies between their subject scholarship and pedagogic practice. Precise attention to language, willingness to speculate and weigh ideas, attention to dialogue and to audiences are matters of central importance to English academics. In the training conference we seek to demonstrate that they are of as much concern in teaching as in subject knowledge. The Subject Centre staff who lead the conference seek to demonstrate in their own professional planning and comportment the idea that teaching is not just a chore, but in itself intellectually challenging and productive.

6. Evaluation of practice and continuing professional development

This event invites all participants to reflect upon and evaluate the workshop itself, on their own participation in it, and on the construction of meaning within learning events. We seek to encourage the ethos of the ‘reflective practitioner’. We make the assumption that a good teacher or facilitator of learning will be self-aware, but will also develop a form of confidence which enables them where necessary to be firm with others. Participants are throughout pointed towards ways of building on and developing what they have learned in the workshop. In the short term, this may be through analysing their experience of the workshop in their own assessment portfolios. In the longer term this could for example take the form of projects, participation in other Subject Centre events or through making informed use of the resources available in their home education / professional development centres.