In this section we offer some ideas about how you can think about the learning experience you offer students, the national recognition available for HE teachers, and provide some external links to useful resources.
Thinking about the way I learn and teach
It is very likely that the instinctive way we teach is directed by two factors: how we were taught ourselves, and how we like to learn. As a teacher in the UK HE sector, it is important that the learning opportunities we create and facilitate are accessible to, and inclusive of, the breadth of learner diversity. Our teaching should also support student acheivement of the attributes of ‘graduateness’ or ‘post-graduateness’ articulated by the UK governments and adapted locally in Cardiff University’s ‘The Way Forward’ http://sites.cardiff.ac.uk/thewayforward/
The following prompts and external resources may be useful points for reflection:
- What do I think UK HE is for? What is my role within it?
You will be aware that there is much debate about the purpose of HE and the benefits of ‘graduateness’. What do you think about these debates? Cardiff is the Welsh Russell Group University. Being in Wales Cardiff receives funding from HEFCW (the Welsh funding council) and is required to support the Welsh Government’s agenda for HE as articulated in ‘For our future’ (http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/publications/guidance/forourfuture/?lang=en). Could you say that your teaching supports this agenda?
- How is my subject/ discipline described in UK HE terms? Are there expectations of graduate in my subject?
The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) is a good place to look for nationally agreed Subject Benchmark Statements for each subject. You can get a good sense about what an undergraduate programme is aiming for – though Cardiff will tweak this to make its programme distinctly ‘Cardiff” (http://www.qaa.ac.uk/AssuringStandardsAndQuality/subject-guidance/Pages/Subject-benchmark-statements.aspx). Can you see how your School has done this?
The Higher Education Academy (HEA) supports teachers teaching across subject areas and has some excellent subject-specific networking, discussion fora and resources (http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/).
- How do I prefer to learn?
There are many rough and ready ‘tools’ to help you explore this question.
VARK is a good place to start – but please do not see ‘scores’ as truths – the questionnaire is intended to make you think about how/ if you use the breadth of learning opportunities it lists in your teaching practice.
The Learning Reflection Questionnaire has been developed in Cardiff University and provides prompts for further thought as you go through it. It only takes a few minutes and is definitely worth doing. It is freely available and can even be a very useful way to help your own students think about their transition from secondary to tertiary education – perhaps during Personal Tutor meetings?
- Are there implications for how I teach/ create learning opportunities and resources?
You may have found that some statements in the VARK were unexpected – you may be amazed that people could learn like that. But of course they do, and that is why you have just stopped and thought about your perspectives on teaching and how students ‘like’ you may have a different experience of the subject/ HE, than those who learn in ways uncomfortable for you?
Cardiff University has an excellent collection of resources to help us think about how we make our learning opportunities and resources accessible to and inclusive of student diversity.