Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Inspiring Academics

HEA logo Professor Paul Ramsden, Chief Executive of the UK Higher Rducation Academy, gave a keynote address (pdf) "Inspiring Tomorrow's Students" at this year's HEA conference. Although the title of his talk concentrated on students, he also said:

To enthuse students, we must also enthuse those who make learning possible ... In inspiring academics, some basic principles apply. First, to use evidence about effective leadership and management for good teaching. What motivates academics to teach well? The practices of heads of departments and deans of faculties are critical to the development of a collegial commitment to enhancing student learning and to a culture of quality in teaching. In higher education, a shared commitment to enhancing student learning is linked to individual approaches to teaching: it implies a greater focus on changing students understanding than on delivery. We have evidence of a direct connection between the ways academics approach their teaching and the quality of their students learning. Inspired academics inspire their students to greater things ... Recognition and reward, at local and national levels, is crucial. Schemes that link teaching excellence to promotions and appointments in HEIs are more advanced than they used to be, but they must be sponsored by heads of department and deans if they are to be credible and succeed in removing the persistent perception that "research counts here... teaching doesn't" ... To this I might add recognising that institutions, like individual academics, are not all equal. Nothing dulls the academic imagination more than specious appeals to equivalence and the imposition of a dumbed-down, anti-competitive ideology.

So how does your institution reward you for teaching?

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