'There were 25 students a year when I first started here. now there are 200'

June 16, 2006

Morag Shiach has won a Leadership Foundation fellowship to help her research on teaching performance

Morag Shiach's interest in teaching performance stems from her own experiences in the field.

"When I first came into a job as university lecturer there was no training. As a PhD student I found myself facing students and did things on the basis of high energy. That takes you quite a long way but it's not sustainable," says Professor Shiach, the vice-principal for teaching and learning at Queen Mary, University of London.

She was head of English and drama at Queen Mary until she stepped into the newly created vice-principal role in September last year. Now she has won a Leadership Foundation fellowship that will allow her to focus on what she sees as an important strategic area: managing teaching performance.

"It's helpful to focus on something for the next 12 months and deliver a project, but it will be important to do it in relationship with what we are doing to measure research," she said.

Professor Shiach admits that measuring teaching was difficult and differed across the sector. She and her team hope to arrive at a shared understanding of effective ways of measuring good teaching and what it is.

The project aims to research existing assessment of teaching performance nationally and internationally.

"We don't seem to have benchmarks where we can say, as an institution, this is where we fit in and what we would like to do better."

The project will give institutions and individuals a better picture of where they stand and what more they can do.

"There were 25 students in a year when I first started here and now there are 200. You have to find different ways to get the same kind of value for the students, and that requires imagination."

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