Teaching standards

May 26, 2016

The recent White Paper talks much of “teaching excellence” and how this can be measured using “core metrics”. The accompanying Green Paper considers in more detail what is meant by “teaching excellence”. It proposes assessment criteria that should form the basis of the three main aspects of quality for the teaching excellence framework: teaching quality, learning environment and student outcomes and learning gain.

One criterion of teaching quality is “the extent to which teaching provides effective stimulation and challenge and encourages students to engage”. TEF panel members/assessors are guided to be “looking for evidence that students are sufficiently challenged and engaged”, and evidence that supports this might include “teaching observation schemes”. A further criterion is the extent to which “institutional culture recognises and rewards excellent teaching”. TEF panel members/assessors are guided to be “looking for evidence that the ethos promotes and values teaching excellence”, and evidence that supports this might include “reward and recognition, promotion and progression opportunities”.

While there are considerable differences between school and university teaching, there is also much in common in terms of standards. A recent paper shows how the standards that are well established for teachers in schools can also be applied to university teachers. The paper argues that the establishment of a set of standards is entirely appropriate – it is merely a matter of the detailed interpretation applicable to higher education. Such standards can also be incorporated into recognition and reward schemes to inform progression and promotion, and would promote and support teaching excellence as measured by any TEF.

As the TEF evolves, universities have much to learn from schools in this regard.

Paul Glaister
University of Reading

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