ESCalate Bulletin No. 15 (1 May 2003)

Contents

  1. New Small Grants Projects
  2. Employability
  3. External Examiner wanted
  4. Forthcoming Events
  5. Problem Based Learning
  6. Induction of new staff in Education in HE
  7. Assessment & students with disabilities

New Small Grants Projects

We are pleased to announce the results of the latest round of ESCalate Small Grants (closing date March 2003). We received 7 applications to the round, all of very high standard, and 5 awards have been offered to applicants from Lincoln, Twickenham, Oxford, Cheltenham and Southampton. Where several institutions are collaborating, the person named is the leader of the project group.
Assessment and Mentoring of Work-Based Learning in Foundation Degrees
· Claire Conway (c.conway@bgc.ac.uk)
Bishop Grosseteste College, Lincoln, with the University of Leicester, Leicester College, and South Leicestershire College.
Investigating good practices in the induction of teacher educators into Higher Education
· Jean Murray (jean.murray@brunel.ac.uk)
Brunel University, with the University of Hertfordshire
Accredited Continuing Professional Development: the motivational and inhibiting factors affecting the completion of courses by teachers
· Tony Rea (area@brookes.ac.uk)
Oxford Brookes University, with Oxford Brookes University, Bishop Grosseteste College and the University of Gloucester.
Developing an electronic science subject audit for primary trainee teachers
· Keith Ross (kross@glos.ac.uk)
University of Gloucester, with St Martin's College, University of Sunderland and the University of the West of England.
The on-line tutorial; developing and evaluating resources and disseminating experience
· Kerry Shephard (k.shephard@soton.ac.uk)
University of Southampton, with King Alfred's College Winchester, the University of Reading, and Bournemouth University.

All successful applicants (along with 2 other people from their teams) have been invited to a one-day seminar event to be held at 35 Berkeley Square, Bristol (date to be confirmed). This will be the second event of its kind, after a valuable and successful one held in February. It is designed to act both as an induction and networking opportunity for those working on projects facilitated by ESCalate.

We would be more than happy if anyone interested in the above topics would also like to join us to meet the teams and discuss the projects.

We are also planning to hold a one-day away day in September for all our current and past award holders to facilitate and encourage the exchange of good practices and ideas. We will keep you informed as and when we have further information regarding this event.
Any enquiries about small grants projects or the awaydays should be sent to Frances Hammond, our Projects Officer, at Frances.hammond@bristol.ac.uk

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Employability

Julie Anderson, (Julie.Anderson@bristol.ac.uk) the ESCalate researcher, has been working on an LTSN project (http://www.ltsn.ac.uk/genericcentre/index.asp?id=17224) which looks at Employability of HE graduates. This is a current, much mentioned government priority. Education departments may face a different mix of issues around employability, and Julie would welcome your comments to contribute to the continuing debate.
Education and Continuing Education have two main types of provision: teacher education programmes, both initial training and continuing professional development, and Education Studies programmes, at undergraduate and sub-degree levels, e.g. Foundation degrees. Employability issues may include
· Promotion. Teachers may attend postgraduate degrees and Diploma programmes to enhance their promotion opportunities. Their choices of programmes may be influenced by their own needs and their perceptions of employer priorities.
· Retention of staff. There is a discourse in teaching about staff 'wastage'. How far is this transfer in terms of employment to different spheres of education: museums, youth work, support services of various kinds, rather than wastage?
· Direct employment from courses. For those students on QTS programmes the focus on their first destination is clear. For those on Education studies courses this is far from the case.
· Are there any differences across the four countries in the UK?

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External Examiner wanted

North East Wales Institute of Higher Education in Wrexham (University of Wales Associated College) runs a BSc (Hons) programme in Substance Use Studies. The course aims to aid people's understanding of substance use problems and helps prepare practitioners to intervene and help. It also aims to provide an environment where former problematic users can begin to translate their personal experiences into potential professional foundations.
About to enter its second year of operation, the course requires an external examiner. In addition to generally ensuring that academic standards are maintained, assessing an agreed proportion of marked assignments, attendance at Examining Board and Qinquennial Review meetings, the external examiner would also be required to lodge an annual report with NEWI and the University of Wales. Appropriate fees are paid for these duties.

Anyone interested in this position should have a good awareness of substance use issues, and experience of teaching in a related area (such as health, social work, criminal justice, youth and community) at undergraduate level.
Any interested parties should contact the Programme Leader,
Paul Burlison (p.burlison@newi.ac.uk)
Programme Leader (Substance Use Studies)
Postal Point 20
North East Wales Institute of Higher Education
Plas Coch, Mold Road
Wrexham LL11 2AW
Tel. 01978 293257

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Forthcoming Events

A number of events are scheduled.
· 6th June
To be held at the University of Glamorgan
Delivering Employability
Details on the website at http://www.escalate.ac.uk/diary/6Jun03.rtf

· 1st July
EdD
To be held at Regents College, London
The professional doctorate in education - futures and challenges
Details on the website at http://www.escalate.ac.uk/diary/1Jula.rtf

· 5th September
Continuing Professional Development
To be held at The Westminster Institute of Education, Oxford Brookes University
Towards the learning profession
Details from Liz.Hankinson@bristol.ac.uk

· 11th - 13th September
BERA
Escalate will be hosting five symposia, and a paper. If you attend look them up on the back of the programme, and come along and meet us there.

· Autumn Term
Managing Complexity
ESCalate was funded to investigate Education policy in the four countries of the UK, which is characterized by a diversity which influences all aspects of practice. This project will host four events in the four countries of the UK to disseminate the results of the study and to engage with colleagues in further discussions of the implications.

Dates & Venues
10th September Scotland, Napier University, Edinburgh
28th October, Wales, University of Cardiff, Civic Centre
13th November, England, Regents College, London
4th December, Northern Ireland, Venue to be confirmed.
Details of all of these complexity events will be on the Events page of the web by the end of June.

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Problem Based Learning

A message here from Mark Newman at Middlesex University
Dear colleagues
You will have received e-mails from me in the past providing information about the Project on the Effectiveness of Problem Based Learning (PEPBL) and various other education related things that I think are interesting. The project e-mail list is dynamic in that I send e-mails to three PBL discussion lists as well as individuals - so I have no idea how many people these e-mails get to - but I hope its a lot and I hope you have found something useful amongst them.

For those of you who don't know the Project on the Effectiveness of Problem Based Learning (PEPBL) is (was?) a three-year R&D project which comprises of two empirical studies. A systematic review of the effectiveness of PBL carried under the auspices of the Campbell Collaboration. At this stage we have completed a pilot systematic review using as a sample 5 previous 'reviews' of PBL.

The second project is a primary study consisting of a randomized experiment comparing PBL with a 'traditional' curriculum in a continuing nursing education programme here in the UK.

We are now at the stage where we are producing reports from the studies. The report of the pilot systematic review will be available as a PDF download from the project website by the end of May and the primary study at the beginning of July. You can find the project website at: http://www.hebes.mdx.ac.uk/teaching/Research/PEPBL/

This project was funded by the UK Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) Teaching & Learning Research Programme (TLRP). This is a very large programme of educational research across the whole range of lifelong learning. There are a number of projects that may be of interest to people in HE, and the third phase of the programme which consists of £10 million of funded projects solely on post compulsory education will be launched in June. You can register to get sent information about the programme in general and specific projects at the TLRP website http://www.tlrp.org/register.html
I hope this information is useful
thanks
Mark
(m.newman@mdx.ac.uk)

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Induction of new staff in Education in HE

Both the LTSN and the TTA are engaged with the subject of inducting new staff in HE. The LTSN is looking at what is available across the network, both generic and subject specific, with a view to having a central resource for new staff to tap into. The TTA is more concerned with the induction needs of new teacher educators, whether these are based in schools or HEIs. ESCalate is in the happy position of being between the two initiatives. At the last LTSN event a member of the TTA support team was present, and it was agreed that we have much that can be usefully exchanged.
The Manager of ESCalate attended a seminar recently at the TTA, in which speakers discussed issues and approaches to staff induction from a range of points of view. I am hoping to be able to create a link to the report of this meeting in due course.
I asked you for your comments on induction of new staff and would like to thank the very many who responded to my request. I wondered whether there might be differences between new staff coming into Education direct from working in schools or other institutions, and those who entered from a research route. Your replies, and the seminar at the TTA, made me realize the naivete of my original question. There is far more to consider here than a simple dichotomy!
I have decided to allow the respondents to speak for themselves, save only that I have removed their names in the interests of collegial anonymity.

"My impression is that it is quite difficult to build a unified culture in a "proper" Education Department, partly because different timetable demands make it hard for the two "wings" to meet. That is a challenge we will have to face from August 2004 on. But although I have experienced those differences in other institutions, my evidence is as anecdotal as yours is. Quite a challenge to respond to this! One could easily write a thesis. I suppose the culture of HE has now changed to the point where the 'divide' between staff responsibilities of the kind you describe in the education subject area is becoming, sadly, institutionalised.
a) There is a great need for 'new blood' in HE at all levels.
b) Many oldish teacher educators were first and foremost (in the university environment) academics. That is now changed. New teacher educators are largely classroom technocrats - with little understanding of, or responsibility for, university culture. It may well be that in many universities with school-focused PGCE and GTTP schemes etc, teacher educators have effectively been de-professionalized to the level of LEA/school supernumeraries. In which case there is not much point in speculating about 'retooling' induction programmes. I think there is definite evidence of an (unstated) government agenda to 'airbrush' universities out of teacher training altogether.
c) What we might call 'residual academics' - those who do research in education, supervise higher degrees etc are more akin to academics. The topics you correctly identify - especially assessment in HE (principles in practice) - are very germane to this group. Unfortunately, not a great deal of systematized effort goes into early staff development of these things and people often settle into bad habits. A decent buddy or mentoring system might help. Universities do need a more orderly approach to staff induction in these areas."

"Firstly, I think new tutors in education for PGCE courses generally do need support with underlying educational theory, familiarity with the literature and with research -especially in research methods. I would add that I think there is a particular need for support in regard to teacher education, e.g. the literature on teacher thinking. Someone like Peter John has a fantastic background in this area but few new teacher educators can access the field. Slightly secondary to this is the question of teacher education methods and course design. Since most new teacher educators have a background in teaching they are able to learn on the job to an extent. However, there is a lot to learn about methods and course design for teacher education that could benefit them. It is not clear to me if the LTSN project relates to the above areas at all. They are concerned with subject specific resources which seems to cast the education tutor in the role of a channel of information to disseminate the resources to the teachers they are training without problematising the way in which these teachers will learn. I agree also that lecturers at doctoral level may need more in the way of methodology rather than theory. However, here too I could see a case for making connections between general educational theory, theories of teacher education / teacher thinking and teaching / training methods."

"The use of ILT in tutoring at a distance, messaging, assessing, etc. would be one area."

"I am happy to say there are almost as many types as there are individuals but that is probably not true. However it is a very complex field, compounded by a good deal of potential fluidity and uncertainty within the sector, as departments/schools look for niches/strategic mixes. I would identify the main perceived needs as:
· research skills (although whether that will prove to be true in the medium term is debatable)
· IT skills
· using research and scholarship to inform practice
· entrepreneurial/consultancy skills
· assessment skills
· cultural orientation
· validation/accreditation/QA/QE requirements (which would include Course Design, monitoring etc).

New entrants bring various strengths. These can include well-honed managerial and inter-personal skills. Equally some have gaps in these areas. I would not see group work as a significant need. Opportunities to experience a wider range of approaches may be more pertinent.
Increasingly some of these needs are addressed by institutions through induction programmes and via their ILTHE accredited provision for new lecturing staff."

"I think the generic skills booklets are very good and I would support the idea of something similar for new lecturers. I think it would be most useful if you did something on course design and research as these are typically the things we have the least experience of at HE level."

"New ITE:
· student placement assessment;
· research methods and techniques;
· time management.
New CPD:
· teaching and delivery approaches;
· group work skills;
· research bidding;
· possibly research methods."

"I agree with you about the differentiated needs for new colleagues. However while there is differentiation the difficulty is to avoid the professional - academic divide between say ITE and Masters and other work. Such a divide impoverishes both 'sides'. It is true that ITE colleagues coming in from school need to develop research skills in many though not all cases; it is also true that the demands on them from the field can sometimes make it difficult for them to acquire theses (and PhDs which younger colleagues should be gaining along the way): this is worth attention. The hierarchies that the university world loves to erect can act very divisively and so making sure ITE colleagues do have as much opportunity as possible to function as researchers is essential to be fair to them. It also enriches the Masters and EdD side who can develop a distance from practice that is damaging to their work. Crucial therefore is the need to maintain movement and shared activity across all areas of work as far as is possible.

I suspect they will be basic, since with the demands of teaching and research in our institution, time for research and support for new researchers is a major issue. Most of our new lecturers involved in teacher ed. have horrendous contact hours and school visiting schedules and they just do not have time to get involved in research projects - I suspect this will come up. I think curriculum design etc are less challenging for our new members of staff - most I think find the demands of research the most difficult since they are mostly coming from a non-research background."

"Many thanks for your email concerning the needs of new lecturers in HE, and I am very pleased to offer my thoughts on this important and emergent area. In my position, I am responsible for teaching teachers in two areas: as subject specialists in school - ICT - towards a PGCE (QTS) and in the MA in Teaching and Learning in HE, a course that we'll begin as a new programme in September 2003.

Having taught on the PGCE for 3 years, and spent 2 years developing the MA, I can say (having spent hundreds of hours in research and consultation!) that the needs of both types of teachers are very similar in some ways, and completely different in others. That is, the contexts are what divide the needs, rather than the basic principles. So, in short:

1. Initial Teacher Education for Schools

· Classroom dynamics (including: starting and finishing lessons; using questions effectively; active listening; relationships.).
· Types and purposes of assessment (including: why assess? purposes, types and practices of formative; purposes, types and practices of summative; creative assessment).

2. Teaching and learning in Higher Education

· Classroom dynamics (including: starting and finishing lessons: using questions effectively; active listening; relationships).
· Curriculum and course design (including: skills and knowledge - how, when and where? purposes of courses and how to assess for purposes; schemes of work; designing courses and modules).

You'll notice that classroom dynamics features in both - this is a surprising under acknowledged area in many teaching courses and yet one which is not only problematic for many new teachers - its gets to the heart of what it is to teach, it also has (arguably) a huge effect on student retention in the classes where these matters aren't attended to. I've been researching this area in the work for my National Teaching Fellowship and it emerges as a crucial area of concern."

"Your message is very timely. We are developing a short course for lecturers at my institution on becoming an M level tutor. We felt it important to explain what is meant by criticality, and how it can be encouraged. This involves supporting on how to use literature (theory, Statutory documentation, working documents) and how to integrate theory and practice. We also feel it important to support people on e-learning, personal tutoring/supervision, marking and assessment. Lastly the bureaucracy is difficult to deal with - so we are developing sessions on validation and evaluation procedures, and other QA arrangements. Our course is very institutionally centred, but I feel the content is relevant to all in HE. I also agree research support is necessary as is how to engage in consultancy work"

"I run a Certificate in Teaching for HE staff. I changed the title of our module on course design to 'designing and planning learning activities', as not all new lecturers design complete courses. We also have a module on developing effective teaching strategies - not mentioned in your list below. This is important for people to be able to consider in relation to generic issues, like diversity, disability (a really key area), on-line teaching, and equal opps; but also in regard to their students (here at my institution all mature students studying part-time), and their subject areas. I would like to be able to access (and point course participants to) materials that consider these. Also key for participants on my course (and others I am sure) is the link between research and teaching. Finally I'd be very interested to know more about the TTA project if you have further details."

"Clearly making teaching and learning 'research based' is absolutely important. However, I think many colleagues 'new' to HE find teaching a real challenge mainly because what they expect and what they met doesn't match. Helping them to build the 'myth' of being a colleague and for student a teacher who can 'do the business' is not always straightforward. So I'd add a thought through induction programme that matches the needs of the wide range of skills that new colleagues bring with them as the single most important aspect. This needs to hammer home the message that HE is about students and staff being a part of the same academic community - and the various ways that this manifests itself. In no particular order some or all of these might be addressed as well.
· Understanding how adults learn
· Recognition of impact of culture, race, gender and wealth (including issue of social class) on relationships and teaching and LEARNING Motivation
· Building relationships in the 'classroom'
· Building relationships with teaching and non teaching colleagues
· Understanding work planning and local and institutional budget as they impact on T&L
· Creativity and imagination in T&L and assessment
· Dealing with over demanding students
· Finding a support network"

"I think that you are absolutely correct in identifying the two different groups - each with different needs! In addition, there is, I believe, an immense danger of the Subject Area of 'Education Studies 'simply being subsumed by all that is 'Teacher Education and Training'. In my view, 'Education Studies, as a subject domain, is much more than this. The two broad groups you have defined should co-exist as they are fundamentally related but those who are new to lecturing in Education Studies at, for example, undergraduate level do have very different needs from those lecturers who are 'new' to Teacher Training."

"I too think this is a very important area and it is becoming more and more of an issue as the work in HE becomes increasingly diverse and complex with lecturers coming from a variety of backgrounds and with many different terms of employment.
I agree with your generic topics, although I would add 'evaluation', 'personal IT', 'information retrieval' and 'e-learning' to that. I think 'group work' could be broadened to thinking about teaching and learning styles (teaching one-to-one in a tutorial brings its own challenges)

In terms of Education, it does depend very much on where people have come from. The needs of someone from a primary school are very different from those coming from other HE institutions or LEAS for example. Careful identification of needs is therefore crucial and a bespoke induction programme should complement any general or generic one. We find that mentors play an important role here when it works well.... (but a great deal relies on the quality of the mentoring)"

"The situation in Northern Ireland differs from that in England and Wales. New HE lecturers in the FE sector come under regulations put in place by DEL. Currently the training requirements are being revised on FENTO standards and these will be used by the HE institutions as the basis for training programmes."

"I think that most courses for new university teachers do, rightly, incorporate group work, assessment and course design. What I think tends to be neglected or dealt with superficially sound theoretical base that includes sociology, psychology, philosophy and history. I realize that all areas cannot be gone to into depth but I do think that it is important to convey the message that good teaching is not technical skill only. I was very interested to hear about these developments as I have led such courses for some time now."

"We do not have a school of education - and therefore I can't comment on any specific needs for this group. Your points on the different backgrounds of new lecturers can, I think, be seen to apply to staff in all disciplines. However, whilst there are clearly discipline differences which need to be considered when developing programmes like ours, we have found that a great deal is also gained from working across the disciplines. I also hope that the generic and subject centres will recognise the work that is already underway in many universities and seek to recognise, compliment and support, rather than replicate, existing practice!"

"We are currently running a SEDA programme for new lecturers but our groups are very small as we do not have a large number of new staff each year.
This is to their advantage as we can tailor the sessions to suit their individual subject needs as well as covering the generic issues of learning and teaching. At the recent SEDA conference there were some people stating that the SEDA, or ILT programmes for New Lecturers was too generic and that they should be subject specific elements / modules built into the programme. Maybe this is where the subject centres could have an input into the programmes. I know that GEES subject Centre run workshops for new lecturers and I would have certainly liked to have had this on offer when I first started to lecture in geography."
The last word goes to a colleague who is new to teaching in HE this year. He or she can thus give us the views as they are truly felt at the time..
"As someone new to HE this year, I feel that my needs/challenges have been in areas such as:
· getting to know University 'rules' for things like presentation and referencing expectations in essays/dissertations (these are more formal and 'set' than in school education)
· becoming familiar with the texts books relevant to my courses, which were available to and recommended to students, and had been built up over time by my predecessors
· clarifying the standards expected in written work
As I came from an extensive teaching background, I have found no difficulty with the teaching side of things, and indeed have been pleased to be told by some students that my lectures are unusually lively and interesting - perhaps because I have honed my skills on rather less automatically committed teenagers, and expect to take some responsibility for making things interesting and, where possible, amusing.

As far as the areas above are concerned, my own team have been excellent in supporting me as regards expectations and standards, through the handbooks prepared for our students, and through shared marking. I'm not sure there is any shortcut to gaining familiarity with the textbooks. I've just had to spend a long time reading - and expect to continue with this for some years to come! I'm not sure if this was the sort of thing you wanted. I certainly feel that if people do not come from a teaching background, then the art of planning and delivering lectures - especially in courses like ours where we may have students for up to six hours in one day - would certainly be essential and helpful. Also, I can remember only too well some of my own lecturers from years ago who seemed to have had no training in actually delivering material to classes. If lecturing undergraduates, it's also important to have some awareness of what they have been accustomed to from school teachers, which will have been much more interactive, and in much smaller classes, than tends to happen at Uni. Students often feel very small and anonymous in University classes, and can find the one-sided delivery, with little chance to become involved, very difficult to adjust to after small A-level classes. They are also used to at least some teachers who, as I said earlier, have developed lively styles of teaching, to hold their attention. I get the impression that I will be more likely to repeat much the same course from year to year at University, in a way I wouldn't have at school, for a range of reasons, which may also make spontaneity and freshness an issue after time. Also, as schools' education and policy changes so rapidly at present, it's a real problem for HE staff to be up to date on recent events. I've been very aware of the need to ensure that any references I make to current methods and policies are still relevant, and I imagine this will grow harder as time goes on, and it's longer since I was in a school myself. I know my students respond very positively to my ability to refer to my own recent experience, but clearly that will soon not be so possible!

If any colleagues would like to add to this debate, or to raise any other issues, please send copy to me. The final Bulletin of this academic year will be issued at the end of June 2003. The first one for 2003 to 4 will come out in September.

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Assessment & students with disabilities

A group of seven HE institutions in the SW has recently launched a project (part funded by HEFCE) to develop alternative forms of assessment to support a more inclusive learning experience for students with disabilities in higher education. The project is called 'Staff-Student Partnership for Assessment Change and Evaluation' (SPACE) We would be very grateful for your help in locating any examples of substantial variations of the means or mode of assessment to meet the needs of students with disabilities (going beyond offering more time in examinations). Please send me an account or let me know where I can find further details (websites, books, articles, etc).

Please send your comments directly to: Andy Hannan, University of Plymouth email: a.hannan@plymouth.ac.uk
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