Welcome to the Jan-Feb Learning & Teaching Enhancement Theme: 20 Years of Enhancement

Image credit: Matthew Ball, CC0, unsplash

Welcome to the January and February Learning & Teaching Enhancement Theme: 20 Years of Enhancement. In the first post, Sinéad Docherty and Nichola Kett introduce the series by outlining the background to 20 Years of Enhancement Themes, look back to past Enhancement Themes activity, and reflect on work to come.

20 Years of Enhancement

Academic year 2022-23 marks the 20th year of the Scottish higher education sector’s enhancement-led approach to quality. It is a milestone year, and the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Scotland is hosting its 20 Years of Enhancement campaign, which will draw on sector colleagues’ and students’ experience of the enhancement-led approach, create opportunities for critical reflection, celebration and look to the future of enhancement in Scotland.

There are many events in this campaign, and we would encourage you to check out the activities of QAA Scotland as they mark 20 years of enhancement.

What are the Enhancement Themes?

The Enhancement Themes are a way for students and staff in universities across Scotland to work together on a theme to improve the student experience.

Looking back: Nichola

Including the current one, there have been 12 Enhancement Themes in total – full marks go to anyone who can name them all! I have been involved in the five most recent Enhancement Themes, and coordinated the University’s work for the last three.

1. Student transitions (2014-17)

The Student transitions theme explored the transitions of students into, through and out of study at university. Notable outputs from our work on this Theme included:

  • Videos featuring international students reflecting on their experiences of culture shock
  • A staff-facing leaflet produced by a PhD Intern outlining the key ingredients of successful student transitions
  • Support for an annual Gearing Up for Transitions event
  • Interactive student transitions map with good practice examples from across the University

Explore Student Transitions (Enhancement Themes website)

2. Evidence for enhancement (2017-20)

The Evidence for enhancement theme reflected on data that was available within the Scottish sector to help us understand what we do well and what we could improve. This Theme aligned with several University activities, including:

  • Evaluation of lecture recording implementation
  • The development of dashboards to support annual monitoring and periodic review
  • Research into non-continuation challenges
  • Closing the student feedback loop
  • Sharing data with student representatives

Explore Evidence for Enhancement (Enhancement Themes website)

Looking forward – Sinéad

Having joined the Quality Team in Academic Services in March 2022, I am relatively new to the Enhancement Themes and enhancement work in Scotland. I have joined the Institutional Team, which includes colleagues from IAD, the Doctoral College and the Students’ Association, and it has been a great introduction to the opportunities of working on a project that spans across the University. I have helped to update the student guides to giving feedback and, in curating the posts for this blog series, have been finding out about all sorts of enhancement work that has taken place over the last 20 years.

3. Resilient learning communities (2020-23)

We are now in Year 3 of the current theme – Resilient Learning Communities. The overall focus of the Institutional Team has been to support work on, and develop our understanding of, the opportunities and challenges within community building at the University. Specific projects include:

  • Community Champions (Moray House School of Education and Sport)
  • Project to improve the experience of students with disabilities (Health in Social Sciences)
  • Postgraduate researcher community building activities
  • Giving feedback student guides
  • Explore community building and sense of belonging with Mastercard Foundation Scholar Program students
  • Create a guide on community building to identify and share good practice across the University

I’m looking forward to seeing the end results of this Theme, and how learnings and practice will be taken forwards. I’m also looking forward to being involved in future enhancement activity from start to finish!

Coming up

In this Teaching Matters series, we have blog posts planned on:

  • Enhancement over the years
  • Assessment
  • Resilient postgraduate taught learning communities

Get in touch

If you’re reading this and thinking of work, activities or projects that you’ve been involved in relating to any of the Enhancement Themes, please do get it touch: Sinead.docherty@ed.ac.uk. We would love to feature as many examples as possible in this series, and highlight the value of this work across the years.

Read previous Teaching Matters blog posts about Enhancement Themes, including the most recent post by Nichola on Resilient Learning Communities.

Nichola Kett

Nichola Kett is Head of Quality Assurance and Enhancement Team in Academic Services, where she oversees the implementation and management of the quality framework and manages the quality assurance and enhancement team. Nichola also engages with and contributes to key University learning and teaching activities.

Sinéad Docherty

Sinéad joined Academic Services in March 2022 as an Academic Policy Officer in the Quality team. Much of Sinéad’s work focuses on quality assurance and enhancement; she is involved in Internal Periodic Reviews (IPRs) across the institution, is Committee Secretary for SQAC and is part of the enhancement team which works on embedding external frameworks and requirements into quality processes at the University.

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