Enhancing Teaching and Learning in HE: two contrasting national policy approaches . Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETLs) The Quality Enhancement Framework (QEF). What I’ll cover. The background to each policy The aims of each policy Underlying assumptions Implementation
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Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETLs)
The Quality Enhancement Framework (QEF)
‘The CETL programme has led to the construction and development of different sorts of learning spaces and spaces to support learning … I can’t quite see they’d have happened in any other way than by CETL capital funding and been as innovative and experimental as happened … the capital may end up making the greatest impact of all CETL funding in the host institution’.
‘In this semester, people have actually designed - not really designed completely but modified - the structure of their seminars to fit the room. Whenever I have a chat with any student in my own class or somebody else’s class, they just say ‘wow, this is the sort of room we want to be in. Tomorrow when we go into employment, we are going to see these kind of rooms and we’ll be very confident because we’ve used it in our seminars and for presentations’. They are going to have a flavour of employability by the time they graduate’.
‘We’ve worked hard to change the culture in the institution to create reward structures to reflect good research records and now we’re more able to reflect good teaching as well. Centres for Excellence have focussed the debate more towards teaching. I don’t think it’s actually achieved much in reality yet, but that new focus on teaching is beginning to guide where the institution is going’.
‘I think this is one area where the playing field is a lot more level than it is in terms of the RAE. We don’t have pots of cash from the RAE to distribute around research innovation - we just don’t have it. This gives us another chance to play to our strengths so I really welcome it. It’s something that does enable universities of this size to really develop. It gives us an opportunity to develop which we couldn’t find from our own resources. It’s absolutely vital’.
‘The achievements of (the CETL) have gone so far as to change the University Mission Statement. This has gone to the heart of the university. The VC refers to it in all the promotion of the university - the way in which (the CETL) is unique - the only government-recognised centre of excellence in (this subject area) in the country. It’s got into the Mission Statement, it’s got into all of our publicity. It’s core. So whenever we sell the university, we sell it as a university committed to these kinds of things. It’s incredibly good for our kudos and reputation and really has affected the heart of the university.’
‘Normally you stay in your silos - stay in your area and you wouldn’t speak to other people. Because you’re so, I don’t know, used to your own sort of area. To paraphrase Charles Handy, “that’s how you do things round here”. So it’s great to hear your colleagues from a different discipline and how they look at issues and it does encourage you to think laterally maybe or differently about a situation that you would really have thought about in a very subject-specific way previously’.
‘We didn’t have enough cash - we didn’t have enough input - as far as money was concerned - to do what we really wanted to do. We were certainly limited by finance until we were awarded the CETL and then some of those shackles were removed. We can try things out. You can see if things work or don’t work. You can certainly throw a little bit of money at some things. We don’t know all the answers so we have to try things out’.
‘The CETL for me is like a bag of opportunities and I feel I’ve learned so much since I started…I’m really pleased and grateful (for the opportunities to attend conferences) because I had the feeling that, prior to being a CETL Fellow, I remember being really bitter about the fact that so much time had gone into personal development, had gone into students, but I was thinking what about me? I’ve been teaching for years - eight or nine years - I’ve been to one or two conferences throughout all that period. It changed completely when I joined CETL. It opened up a whole world where I could go and listen. So all these projects which have been mentioned, I wouldn’t have known about if it hadn’t been for the CETL’.
‘It was just wonderful because it actually makes you feel a part of the university not just like, I don’t know - like a car in a garage. You actually feel a part of the whole system and that you can actually be heard. Your voice is being heard. And if you feel that people are going to make changes based on what you say, you’re going to want to be there, you’re going to want to study there. And you’re going to want to work harder because you feel as though what you’re doing is being appreciated’.
‘Internal review processes can now focus on a slightly more critical analysis for the benefit of the institution rather than trying to provide a rosy picture for external people’.
‘It took people a little bit of time to get their heads around the fact that wewere in charge of it - rather than just having to comply with it. That was quite a change. ..... You need to believe that you can actually have a go and perhaps not succeed but that you're not going to get clobbered for that’.
‘In the old audits, you were guilty till proven innocent. Now it’s the other way round – you’re innocent till proven guilty’.
‘I have high hopes for it. It sounds like it’s going to do the things that the sector hopes it will actually achieve without an enormous burden in terms of thousands of man-hours and hundreds and hundreds of pages of documentation’.
‘One huge benefit we have in Scotland is that we are quite small and we can all get together in one room – the whole sector, as it were – and talk about these things. Which is really enormously helpful and of itself makes the whole prospect of enhancement actually credible’.
‘The older universities have the self-belief that what they do is right, the newer universities haven’t got that confidence. We sometimes forget that what we do is reasonably OK. We can learn from the sector by seeing that all institutions are different – not necessarily better’.
‘I think it’s undoubtedly the case that there has been far more discussion and far more thinking about practice in these areas over the five years, six years that the themes have been running than there was in the five or six years before that or the five or six years before that. So it seems to me there’s undoubtedly been a significant amount of agenda-raising and of putting these things on the table that says ‘what are we doing about these? What are we thinking about them? How’s it working?’ and so on’.
‘There’s a certain Scottish thing that says whatever England does, you’ve got to take it away and wrap a bit of tartan ribbon around it and make it different!’