Welcome to May-June’s Learning and Teaching Enhancement theme: The Edinburgh Teaching Award

Original illustration by Sara Hassan, ECA illustration student

In this post, Rayya Ghul and Hazel Christie introduce the new Learning and Teaching Enhancement theme entitled “Gaining recognition for teaching: The Edinburgh Teaching Award”. The series will run from May through June 2021.

In May and June, Teaching Matters will focus on the Edinburgh Teaching Award (EdTA), the University’s accredited provision for awarding Fellowships of the Higher Education Academy.

Fellowships are a portfolio route to gaining recognition for learning and teaching in Higher Education.  There are four categories of Fellowship: Associate Fellow, Fellow, Senior Fellow and Principal Fellow. They were originally awarded solely through direct application to the Higher Education Academy, but since 2012 individual HEIs have been able to run accredited local schemes. In her blog, the EdTA Manager, Emily Salvesen will describe how the scheme started up and share the way it’s grown in numbers and reach in the past seven year.

Within the Higher Education sector, both in the UK and nationally, there has been growing awareness of the importance of possessing teaching skills and increasingly, employers expect applicants to academic positions to have a teaching qualification. It’s not hard to see why.  The student experience of learning and teaching has become an important part of a university’s reputation in what is an increasingly marketized and competitive landscape.

However, the value of undertaking a fellowship exceeds such utilitarian gains. Here at Edinburgh, there is no formal requirement to undertake a Fellowship. We have deliberately tried to create a culture where staff engaged in teaching and/or supporting learning can use the EdTA process as a personal and professional enhancement activity.  This mirrors the enhancement approach to quality assurance in Scotland.  While the reasons that people choose to join the scheme will vary, we emphasise certain benefits, such as the opportunity to step back and reflect on practice, to consider the ways in which our aspirations for ourselves, our colleagues and our students could be met, and increased confidence and pride in our work.  Preparing a claim encourages us to surface the pedagogical reasoning behind our choices and articulate what we do more clearly.

The four categories of Fellowship are designed to provide recognition for different types of role in relation to learning and teaching.  Associate Fellowship is for people with a limited engagement with teaching – most usually assistant or novice roles, but also senior academics with a very small teaching load. Fellowship is for the bulk of our teaching staff who are carrying out all parts of the teaching, assessment and course management role.  Senior Fellowship is a route for experienced teachers in leadership roles, perhaps leading large programmes, taking responsibility for specific review and enhancement projects, and generally influencing the practice of others.  Principal Fellowship is there to recognise staff who have significant strategic responsibilities in relation to learning, teaching and the student experience across a School or the University and maybe even have impact and influence across the sector.

Underpinning all the fellowships is the United Kingdom Professional Standards Framework, which was originally designed from the ground up by a group of experienced teaching academics across the UK. The UKPSF provides a flexible framework against which any staff member with teaching responsibilities or supporting learning can evaluate and demonstrate their practice. The flexibility means that professional services staff are also able to gain recognition at all categories if they have roles which intersect with student learning and teaching.

We provide all of our candidates with a mentor and assess all of our claims internally at the EdTA Panel.  It’s a bit like an Exam Board, but with much more discussion of the individual claims. Dr Jeni Harden will share her roles as mentor and assessor, while Prof Robbie Nicol provides a unique insight into the workings of the panel from his role as Panel Chair.

We hope that this series will provide you with an insight into the EdTA process and allow you to hear from people who have successfully completed their fellowships, from the people who mentor and assess the claims of their colleagues and those who manage the scheme.

photograph of the authorRayya Ghul

Rayya is a National Teaching Fellow and lecturer in University Learning and Teaching. She is based in the Institute for Academic Development where she is the University Lead for the Edinburgh Teaching Award and convenes the course on Accessible and Inclusive Learning. Rayya runs Practical Strategies sessions on embedding access and inclusion into the curriculum and also ways to apply a solution focused approach to supporting students in a variety of roles.

photograph of the authorHazel Christie

Hazel Christie is Head of the CPD Framework for Learning and Teaching and is based in the Institute for Academic Development at the University of Edinburgh.

photograph of the authorSara Hassan

Sara Hassan is an Illustration student at the College of Art originally from Northumberland. She primarily works with gouache and collage, however she enjoys playing with lots
of different mediums. When she’s not working on her degree, she enjoys traveling and spending time with animals – two of her main inspirations for herillustrations!

Instagram: @saraeveillustration https://www.instagram.com/saraeveillustration/

Etsy account: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SaraEveIllustration

One comment

  1. HEA Fellowship and EdTA summed up beautifully! As a past participant and current mentor of EdTA, I cant speak highly enough of it. An enjoyable and attainable route to robust credibility for teaching roles.

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