Defining and measuring teaching excellence : differences in student and academic perceptions

Page, Nigel and Burden, Penny (2019) Defining and measuring teaching excellence : differences in student and academic perceptions. In: HEIR Conference 2019 : Measuring Excellence in Higher Education: Approaches and their Impact; 11 - 13 Sep 2019, Wolverhampton, U.K..


Higher education (HE) appears driven by a thirst for metrics as the sector decides on those most appropriate for defining and measuring the quality of teaching. However, there can be issues and variations with using metrics as a measure of teaching excellence including in their interpretation. Overall, there needs to be an understanding of how what is being measured is perceived between different groups of students and academics in order to bring closer alignment in expectations. The introduction of tuition fees and concomitant removal of public funding has focussed attention on the competitive nature of teaching excellence. It has also shifted the onus of determining what high quality teaching looks like from practitioners to students. That is from mechanisms such as the Teaching Quality Assessment (TQA) in determining a teaching excellence score to student evaluation through the National Student Survey (NSS) with these scores now being used to feed into the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). With attention focussed on student perceptions of teaching excellence and what this means for their overall student experience, our initial thoughts have been on how this may impact on the delivery of teaching observation schemes and the training of observers in facilitating excellence in teaching. In this session, we will discuss the results from a research project involving student and staff focus groups and qualitative survey analysis in determining what high-quality teaching means to each group, how it can be evaluated/measured and what the necessary improvements are to achieve high quality teaching and fulfill student expectations. We also highlight differences exposed in subject level specialist teaching as revealed from a lecturers’ perspectives between STEM, and business, music and arts subjects; as well as how we have started to develop a taxonomy of ‘high-quality teaching’ from both an academic and student perspective taking into account the various attitudes, values and methods. We will close by discussing how these new understandings have led to subsequent changes in the delivery of our learning and teaching continuous professional development programme and how these will need to continuously evolve in matching the changing HE landscape and the demands of students.

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