This project addresses the need for academics to become qualified university teachers so that they can effectively facilitate student learning. The project aims to prepare, test and evaluate a plan for making development of university teachers holistic and sustainable.
This includes first preparing curricula of new educational development courses/workshops for university teachers, undergoing an international accreditation of the courses and piloting them with at least 50 doctoral students and beginner teachers from two universities (University of Economics in Bratislava and Comenius University in Bratislava).
Secondly, we are going to design a new plan for making student feedback continuously enhance quality of teaching and learning and test the plan within 40 or more courses in two participating universities.
Thirdly, we are going to prepare two scholarly studies: a study into the impact of the newly introduced educational development initiatives and a study evaluating the effectiveness of mechanisms that support pedagogical conversations and informal learning among university teachers.
Finally, we are going to design a plan for identifying, selecting and rewarding excellence in teaching and propose the plan for implementation within at least two participating universities.
Through providing a more integrated approach to staff development, we expect to prepare significantly more university teachers for new challenges of current times, including teaching large student groups, teaching online and helping students to become effective life-long learners. Teachers will be able to design courses so that they meet high-quality standards.
They will also be able to use student-centred teaching methods and some of them will even be able to implement the "students as partners" approach. Teachers recognized for their excellence will lead and inspire further colleagues to come up with innovative classes. Most importantly, we assume to achieve a synergic effect when student feedback helps to enhance teaching, and good teaching feeds into enhanced motivation and increased student effort while learning. The project will thus create conditions for continuous enhancement of student learning experience and learning outcomes.
Planned Project Activities
We have planned the project activities in a way that they should support the attainment of project outcomes. In compliance with the structure of the planned intellectual outputs, the project implementation will comprise three main types of activities:
- designing and pilot testing of three types of educational development initiatives forming a holistic educational development system altogether, which includes:
- educational development courses/workshops curriculum design and piloting,
- designing and piloting a new system of student feedback evaluations that will continuously enhance quality of teaching and learning,
- designing a system of rewarding excellence in teaching in higher education;
- research activities evaluating the piloted educational development courses and student evaluations as well as the effectiveness of mechanisms supporting pedagogical conversations and informal learning among university teachers;
- dissemination and multiplication of project outcomes.
Planned Intellectual Outputs
I. Design and pilot testing of curriculum of educational development courses and workshops
Within this output, we are going to design and pilot the curricula of three-level system of courses/workshops for university teaching staff:
- an introductory course for first-year doctoral students (based on the experience with the curricula of two types of courses for doctoral students that have already been piloted at EUBA),
- a consequent pedagogical course for beginner university teachers with a PhD. degree,
- a series of workshops for experienced university teachers on up-to-date topics of interest.
All of these workshops will be organized with a view to supporting pedagogical conversations and informal learning among university teachers.
II. A feasible plan of measures to make student feedback continuously enhance quality of teaching and learning in higher education
We are going to prepare a plan for changing the existing system of gathering and using feedback from students at EUBA and Comenius University in Bratislava. This shall include:
- redesigning the questionnaire used or designing a new one so that it focuses primarily on the practice of teaching and learning and suggests changes in teaching and learning activities in alignment with the learning outcomes of each course under evaluation (building upon the actual experience of Lund University and University of Tartu and their evaluations of the systems they use, especially the recent evaluations of the changes to the system implemented by University of Tartu in 2019),
- proposing a more effective way of collecting relevant feedback from students,
- proposing a new way for how the information from the questionnaires will be evaluated and how the results will be shared with teachers and students and used to change learning and teaching accordingly.
III. A study assessing the impact of newly introduced educational development initiatives (intellectual outputs I and II)
IV. A study evaluating the effectiveness of mechanisms that support pedagogical conversations and informal learning among university teachers
V. A system for identifying, selecting and rewarding excellence in teaching
Within this output, we are going to prepare a plan for how universities can adopt an integrated approach to promoting excellence in teaching. The system should engage a number of stakeholders, including e. g. students, colleague teachers, institutional leadership (like departmental heads or deans) and public. If work of any teacher is to be awarded, such a choice should be supported by enough evidence and the selection process should follow unambiguous and solid criteria evaluated by a selection committee that is representative of the various groups of stakeholders engaged.