A same (but different) look back at the Edinburgh Teaching Award (EdTA) so far…

Image: unsplash, Linas Bam @ohyousuperman, CC0

Emily Salvesen reflects on the growth and success of the Edinburgh Teaching Award. Emily is CPD Programme Manager in the Institute for Academic Development. This post is part of the Learning and Teaching Enhancement theme:  “Gaining recognition for teaching: The Edinburgh Teaching Award”.

It’s been almost seven years to the day (April 7th, 2014) since our first participant on the Edinburgh Teaching Award started their journey. The EdTA sits within the University’s CPD Framework. It was initially an alternate route to the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PgCAP), which is accredited to Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (through Advance HE). My thoughts at the possibility of another pathway were:  ‘Why?’ ; ‘Is this the end for PgCAP?’; ‘Will anyone want this?’, and more positively, ‘What an opportunity!

My role in the Institute for Academic Development is to manage the programmes and schemes within the CPD Framework that give colleagues across our University the opportunity to gain professional recognition for their work in teaching and supporting learning. This can take the form of one-off workshops to the programmes and pathways that lead to the four different categories of fellowship of the HEA. This not only supports colleagues but, hopefully, enhances our student experience as our staff colleagues gain ideas, motivation, self-achievements and confidence. I work, of course, with a myriad of IAD colleagues to make all this happen. Teaching does matter. Giving us all the opportunity to grow and be better within teaching (and I use that word very widely) is important.

So, why the EdTA? Did we need it?

The EdTA is, in some ways, the same. In others, different.

Image: Pixaby, CCO

In terms of gaining professional recognition for teaching and/or supporting learning, the EdTA is a different methodology we are offering to colleagues. There are taught degree programmes (PgCAP, MSc Clinical Education, MSc Digital Education) accredited against the Associate Fellow and Fellow categories. Now there’s an individualised, self-paced (within a set end-time), portfolio-based pathway in the CPD Framework as well.

It turns out we needed it – the numbers speak for themselves. The PgCAP historically had around 100 students on the programme. We now have 156 students on the programme, so no loss to worry about for the PgCAP. The EdTA has just over 300 current participants with nearly 400 colleagues having completed their chosen category of fellowship.

I briefly reflected on gaining my own Fellowship over this period in this Teaching Matters EdTA blog post. Although I went direct to Advance HE (ethically, this was the sensible route), I think personally we do it better (in all our routes!). I didn’t get any feedback from Advance HE, although I’m indebted to colleagues who read and commented on some of my draft material. Participants on the EdTA get feedback from their mentors all the way through if they ask for it, but also from assessors. I’ve also developed into becoming an EdTA mentor – what a great way to listen and discuss colleagues’ work around the University! Here’s how other mentors have described their experience:

I wouldn’t say it’s all plain sailing. There’s a dread of doing ‘chase-ups’ (hassling colleagues to start/continue/submit). The covid-19 impact on teaching load and reworking teaching has had a knock-on effect on CPD time and availability of mentors and assessors. There are ongoing concerns whether colleagues have time in workload models for participating, mentoring or assessing. We are currently oversubscribed and run a waiting list for each intake. That is because the number of new participants is dependent on the availability of mentors – we do need more mentors!

However, overall the interest, engagement and success of the scheme is amazingly positive for seven years’ offering.

If you are interested in becoming an EdTA mentor, please contact me: iad.cpdframework@ed.ac.uk – we would be delighted to hear from you!

Emily Salvesen

Emily Salvesen is the CPD Programme Manager in the Institute for Academic Development.

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