Training courses on right track

September 18, 1998

Six universities that run training courses for their lecturers already achieve the objectives set for the proposed Institute for Learning and Teaching, a pilot study will conclude later this year.

Gus Pennington of the Universities and Colleges Staff Development Agency, which is overseeing the work, said: "Existing provision is very well placed in relation to the national outcomes."

The Pounds 50,000 study evaluated courses offered by the universities and how they matched the ILT's objectives. Draft reports are being circulated to the ILT planning group, and a full report will be published later this year.

One of the universities, Liverpool John Moores, has also analysed its course internally. Psychologist Holly Smith will present the findings tomorrow at the British Psychological Society's education section conference.

All new lecturers at the university with less than three years' teaching experience are required to study for a postgraduate certificate in teaching and learning. More than 60 staff have achieved or are in the process of completing the qualification, which is accredited by the Staff and Educational Development Association.

One of the main benefits, as viewed by senior research staff, is that lecturers are well prepared for the teaching quality assessment exercise. Older staff could have been lecturing for, say, 20 years without ever having been observed by their peers. By taking the course, lecturers become more accustomed to peer observation and less anxious about the TQA, Ms Smith said. The course also provides lecturers with the language and knowledge to discuss teaching, which is also required for the TQA.

The lecturers said their students were better informed about the learning expected to take place. This aspect is likely to become increasingly important with the introduction of tuition fees.

"The most exciting change was the way in which people perceived the role of higher education lecturer," Ms Smith said. Before the course, they viewed the role of lecturer as one of transmitting information. Afterwards, they saw themselves as facilitators of student learning.

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