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Creating a culture of Teaching Excellence

25 Mar 2019 | Emily Chapman-Waterhouse Emily Chapman-Waterhouse, Lecturer in Student Academic & Professional Development at Harper Adams University, outlines her experience of sharing the concepts of teaching excellence.

When defining teaching excellence I can only talk about an institution-specific culture, and what it looks like at my institution, Harper Adams. Here it’s based on interactiveness, where colleagues are really engaging with students and thinking outside the box in terms of delivery.  This could be as simple as thinking about how to deliver similar information in a different way, for example, colleagues may present information in webinars or livestreams. To create this culture, encouraging staff to talk about teaching excellence is key. 

As a result of attending the Teaching Excellence Programme (TEP) in 2017, I’m trying to be more active in terms of talking to people about teaching excellence. This includes discussing the concept, asking how we can measure/ achieve it and how that might relate to a TEF submission. I’m probably the annoying person that keeps nattering at colleagues about the same thing! While our TEF narrative is authored by senior colleagues, like other teaching-active staff, I have an interest in contributing to the data we’re collecting and what it demonstrates about Harper Adams.

I was fortunate to get some internal funding to run a project to understand the staff perspective on the drivers and barriers to teaching excellence, which will be published externally. In addition to this, I’ve run conference workshops at both Edge Hill and Plymouth University and will be hosting a  #LTHE Tweet chat in May. This project was integral to understand institution-specific teaching excellence, with one of the recommendations being that it is rerun on a larger scale to gather wider viewpoints. 

Before I took part in TEP I was looking to gain a sense of where my practice was in terms of the sector and also where I sat within my institution in terms of my contribution in this particular area. My desire to take part was very self-driven, I wanted to be able to bring some useful recommendations back to base. I found that the first masterclass around teaching excellence absolutely set the context of why we were there. After that, there were useful refresher exercises and group conversation which helped me with sense checking that I was still up to speed with good practice. 

I took part in TEP because I wanted to access a wider viewpoint and internal staff development wouldn’t have offered the same breadth. I was able to share viewpoints with colleagues from different institutions, as attending events like this mean that automatically you’re in the room with people from different places. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the TEP. The pre-correspondence was well organised and we were encouraged to make contact with fellow group members before the first workshop, which created a welcoming and approachable environment in which I felt that any questions I had would not be seen as silly. This environment is representative of the culture I have helped create a Harper Adams, one in which teaching excellence is discussed and engaged with by staff.

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