By GARY VELAN and PATSIE POLLY
Research has traditionally been rewarded and recognised more than teaching at leading universities. One reason for this disparity is that measures of research excellence are widely used and accepted. In contrast, there are no generally accepted measures of teaching excellence.
In response to this challenge, Fellows of the UNSW Scientia Education Academy were awarded an internal grant to conduct a Delphi study to delineate the dimensions of effective teaching in higher education. Building on existing literature, the project group collaborated with national and international experts to develop consensus dimensions of effective teaching practice and associated criteria. The resulting dimensions differ from existing standards, including the UK Professional Standards Framework and the Australian University Teaching Criteria and Standards (AUTCAS), yet align well with those frameworks. The dimensions are: teaching and supporting learning; design and development of learning activities and assessment; disciplinary expertise and professional development; and educational leadership.
Standards of practice were subsequently developed for each dimension at each academic level, providing transparency regarding the evidence required by academics to demonstrate educational excellence. Following feedback from UNSW staff, the dimensions and associated criteria were refined, along with indicative practice standards, guidelines for collecting evidence and exemplars across a variety of disciplines.
The dimensions were operationalised in an online portfolio platform to enable academics to provide evidence of their educational achievements. Importantly, integration of ePortfolio pedagogy in this development process for academics helps to create a habit of mind. The platform, myEducation Portfolio, enables staff to collect artefacts, reflect upon their teaching practice and curate evidence of achievement in alignment with the dimensions and associated criteria. myEducation Portfolio will be incorporated into academic promotion processes at UNSW from 2020. Planned future developments include enabling public display of portfolios to disseminate best practice and to encourage collaborations within UNSW and externally.
Professor Gary Velan, Senior Vice Dean (Education) Faculty of Medicine
Co-Director, Scientia Education Academy, UNSW Sydney
Professor Patsie Polly
Scientia Education Fellow, UNSW Sydney