Oxford to groom future teachers

May 27, 2005

More than half of Oxford University's postgraduates are likely to pursue an academic career, and plans are afoot to prepare the next generation more effectively than ever for such a future.

In September, Oxford's Centre for Excellence in Preparing for Academic Practice, with a budget of £3.3 million, will launch a pilot scheme to arm potential academics with discipline-based development and research on knowledge, skills and teaching.

Keith Trigwell, reader in higher education at Oxford's Institute for Advancement of University Learning, said the idea was to pre-empt the training courses most new academics go through.

The scheme will encourage postgraduates and contract research staff to think about scholarship development during their studies. It would integrate teaching ideas with the transferable skills training given to postgraduates and the knowledge development born of research, he said.

"Oxford has been grappling with how to support teachers. (This scheme is) a way of systematising what's already happening but also enhancing it," he said.

"It's building teaching development on the kinds of things that are already there. It aims to create academics with a fuller, more rounded perspective.

"You might have some experience of teaching - you've been taught - but that's only developed through apprenticeship. We are hoping to introduce more scholarly teaching so that a person approaching a first post has discussed ideas and the concepts behind teaching."

By introducing a more scholarly approach to teaching development at an early stage, the scheme should give Oxford graduate students a head start in developing teaching skills.

The centre has links with a network of key research universities, comprising University College London, King's College London, Imperial College London, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Warwick universities and the London School of Economics.

Oxford would use most of the £3.3 million for teaching development, and some would go towards exchanging research and development ideas with the rest of the network, Dr Trigwell said.

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