Design and Implementation of Two Measures Aiming to Improve the Quality and Increase the Status of Teaching at Universities

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Quality teaching has always been on the agenda in higher education, but within the last decades an increased focus on students’ learning outcome and the requirements from employers have changed the perspective from a teacher responsibility to an organizational focus area. This shift has been supported by international initiatives and reports (European Commission, 2013; Hénard & Roseveare, 2012) and Danish higher education has also within the last years witnessed a series of reports advocating for various initiatives to improve the quality of teaching (Expert Committee, 2015). A central attention point in these reports, and an emphasized barrier for increased staff engagement in improving teaching, has been the relatively low status of teaching compared to research. University of Copenhagen is a research intensive university and research has always been the strongest currency. But better teaching became a central theme in the Strategy 2016 (University of Copenhagen, 2012), adopted in 2012, and this started a series of initiatives with the aim to improve the quality and increase the status of teaching. This presentation will analyse the design and implementation of two of these initiatives: A standard for teaching competence named a Pedagogical Competence Profile (PCP), and a Teaching Portfolio (TP) for all teaching staff. The design and implementation process A commission with skilled teachers and resource persons from each of the six faculties was appointed to design the PCP and have it broadly accepted at the university. A similar commission was appointed to design and implement the TP, demanding all teachers to have a TP by the end of 2016. The PCP commission based its work on some central principles: The enhancement of student learning should be at the centre of all elements in the competence profile, it has a broad understanding of teaching (including more than what happens in the classroom), it is not-normative, it is independent of job category, and it should be internationally compatible. The work was inspired by existing literature, e.g. the UK Professional Standards Framework (The Higher Education Academy, 2011) to secure international compatibility, plus invited resource persons from outside Denmark. The first version of the PCP was criticized in the hearings in relevant boards and steering committees, e.g. the central collaboration committee, leadership groups across faculties, study leader groups, and a revised version was designed and approved. The TP commission started with a literature review (Christiansen, Damlund, & Jacobsen, 2014) and developed a format for a common teaching portfolio that was tested by selected users representing all faculties and the different levels of teaching staff. They were group-wise asked to follow the PCP dimensions and to adjust the TP to various occasions: Applying to become a member of a (imaginative) teaching academy, preparing for the annual Performance and Development Review, applying for an academic position, presenting a course, and as an assignment for the Teaching Development Programme. The pilot testing led to replacing the original idea of a common format for an e-portfolio with a flexible TP adapted various occasions. After the PCP was backed by the leadership as a standard for teachers’ pedagogical competence the PCP and the TP have been presented together at workshops and conferences and the feedback has informed the ongoing implementation process of the TP. The work with designing and implementing the PCP and the TP is in many ways an ideal example on a combined top-down and bottom-up process. For securing organizational acceptance of these and future interventions we have therefore formulated the following Research question What barriers impede and what drivers support the design and implementing of the two measures Pedagogical Competence Profile and Teaching Portfolio at university? Methodology, Methods, Research Instruments or Sources Used You could label the whole design and implementation process for Organisational Action Research. The PCP and the TP have been continuously developed through an involvement from and interplay between the commissions and different levels at the university. In this respect the two commissions have interacted with many actors and boards at the university, have made them think and react and give feedback, and based on the feedback the commissions have revised their ideas. A variety of methods have been employed to collect data and to inform the process of designing and implementing the two measures. The data originating from the pilot testing of portfolio include the portfolios produced, notes from the feedback sessions, and the recorded focus group interviews. The questions and feedback we received from various committees and fora and conferences when presenting the TP and the PCP are regarded as field notes. Workshop with staff members at a university conference focused on expressing concerns and ideas led to a collection of post-its describing the need for spaces and situations for reflection on teaching. The TP commission members also conducted individual interviews with experienced assessors of teaching qualifications across faculties to shed light on how teaching portfolios currently inform the assessment and how teaching qualifications are assessed. The data in form of field notes, written feedback and audio recordings has been analysed thematically (Braun & Clarke, 2006) for barriers and drivers for implementation. By barriers we understand expressions of resistance, hesitation, or questioning the measures that may be signs of real or imagined concerns that the implementation of the measures could evoke. By drivers we understand expressions of curiosity, support, and constructive contributions that may be signs of the measures being in demand by staff and/or leadership. Conclusions, Expected Outcomes or Findings Interviews with staff assessing applications and appointing new staff have revealed the need for a common language and a standard or reference for pedagogical competence, supporting the use of the PCP. Other staff questions the idea of the TP as a valid means to assess teaching competences. Some staff fears that the PCP and the TP will be used by leadership as a control mechanism rather than a means for developing teaching. Some also fear that the TP will create extra work at the expense of research. So, the high status and importance that research has for career advancement and status constitutes a barrier for implementing the TP. But on the other hand, some staff underlines that making the use of TP mandatory in leader-staff consultations and in course assessment in the long run will raise the status of teaching. Faculty in general recognise the need to increase the status of teaching and are welcoming initiatives that can support this – especially the large share of staff who is engaged in teaching. Staff also confirms the need for tools and space for reflecting on one’s own teaching in a broad array of situations. Some staff expresses a fear that the PCP as a standard will work instrumentally and narrow the teaching development rather than creating space for new thoughts and initiatives. Perspectives In a research intensive university environment it is very difficult to give teaching a status equal to research. This research has shown that by initiating discussions at all levels and in many fora at the university, the barriers and the support has come out in the open for a fruitful exchange of pros and cons and through this process the two fundamental measures have gained broad acceptance among both staff and leadership. References Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101. doi: 10.1191/1478088706qp063oa. Christiansen, F. V., Damlund, V., & Jacobsen, J. C. (2014). Undervisningsportfolio - erfaringer og veje frem. Delrapport 1-1 i KUUPI udviklingsprojekt om undervisningsportfolio IND's skriftserie (Vol. 31). København: Institut for Naturfagenes Didaktik, Københavns Universitet. European Commission (2013). Report to the European Commission on Improving the quality of teaching and learning in Europe’s higher education institutions. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. (retrieved 14.01.2016). Expert Committee (2015). Final report from The Expert Committee on Quality in Higher Education in Denmark. Copenhagen: Ministry of Higher Education and Science. (retrieved 14.01.2016). Hénard, F. & Roseveare, D (2012). Fostering Quality Teaching in Higher Education: Policies and Practices. Institutional Management in Higher Education, OECD. (retrieved 14.01.2016). Moss, P. A. (1994). Can there be validity without reliability? Educational Researcher, 23(2), 5-12. Mårtensson, K., Roxå, T., & Olsson, T. (2011). Developing a quality culture through the scholarship of teaching and learning. Higher Education Research & Development, 30(1), 51-62. Roxå, T., & Mårtensson, K. (2009). Significant conversations and significant networks–exploring the backstage of the teaching arena. Studies in Higher Education, 34(5), 547-559. The Higher Education Academy (2011). The UK Professional Standards Framework. (retrieved 14.01.2016). Tigelaar, D. E. H., Dolmans, D. H. J. M., Wolfhagen, I. H. A. P., & van der Vleuten, C. P. M. (2005). Quality issues in judging portfolios: implications for organizing teaching portfolio assessment procedures. Studies in Higher Education, 30(5), 595-610. doi: 10.1080/03075070500249302 University of Copenhagen (2012). 2016 - Strategy for the University of Copenhagen. (retrieved 14.01.2016). Intent of Publication University of Copenhagen is member of the Network for Enhancing Teaching and Learning at Research Intensive Universities (NETL). The research will be published as chapter in a book published by the network.
Translated title of the contributionDesign og implementering af to virkemidler, der skal forbedre kvaliteten og øge status af undervisning ved universitetet
Original languageEnglish
Publication date26 Aug 2016
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2016

ID: 170734211