Grant Holder(s) Project Title & Abstract Grant Status
Catherine Bovill & Dr Catriona Cunningham Evaluation of the Scottish Higher Educational Developers (SHED) inter-institutional peer observation of teaching scheme

The SHED inter-institutional peer observation of teaching (POT) scheme is a new initiative to encourage sharing of teaching practice and discussion of educational development practice between individuals and institutions in Scotland. To our knowledge this POT scheme is unique in its focus on educational development and its inter-institutional emphasis. This scheme has been informed by educational development research that has recognized that enhancing the informal networks where staff can discuss teaching has great benefits for learning and for successful academic departments (Roxå & Mårtensson 2009). It is also hoped that this project will further develop the rich discussions about the complex roles and identities of the educational developer (Baume & Popovic, 2016). This new POT scheme started in September 2017 and an invitation to participate has been sent to the 130 participants on the SHED JISCmail list.  

As part of our plans, we aim to evaluate this new initiative and have secured ethical approval to do so. We aim to invite educational developers who have undertaken the SHED POT to complete reflective logs. Approximately 10 participants will also be invited to participate in an individual Skype interview, where we will ask further in-depth questions about peer observation of teaching in educational development. The SEDA grant would support this evaluation stage of the SHED inter-institutional POT scheme by enabling us to employ a research assistant to support the evaluation interview and analysis work and ensure that we complete the project as planned.
Helen King & Dr Kyriaki Anagnostopoulou Professional Learning of Expert Teachers in Higher Education

This educational development research project will explore, through face-to-face interviews, how six award-winning teachers develop their practice. The theoretical framework for the project is based on a model of the development and maintenance of expert performance. The model proposes that expert performers take a self-determined approach to learning which might be described as Deliberate Practice or Progressive Problem Solving, and this has been explored in a range of fields from athletics to the arts. The aim of this project is to begin to test this model in the context of expert teachers in higher education, using National Teaching Fellowship as a proxy criterion for expertise. As well as beginning to provide an empirical basis for the theoretical framework, the outcomes of the project will include cases studies of professional development and practical ideas for their use in educational development. This research project is the first small step in developing a broader and deeper understanding of the characteristics of expertise in teaching in higher education. The concept of expertise, as a continuous process of learning and development in order to better one’s own practice, is perhaps better aligned with the values of educational development than that of excellence which implies a static point that is reached by surpassing others.
Susan Mathieson, Roger Penlington & John Holmes  Academic apprenticeship: socially situated workplace learning for early career academics

The proposed research contributes to debates about the implementation of the Apprenticeship for Academic Professionals by focusing on its potential as a model for rethinking workplace learning, placing it at the heart of academic induction into professional practice. In particular, it explores the implications of different departmental/disciplinary cultures on the provision of effective workplace learning and reflection opportunities for early career academics. It draws on a social practice theoretical framework (Lave 1993, Trowler 2008, Mathieson 2011), which foregrounds socially situated learning through participation in locally developed practices, that organise the learning of newcomers through the creation of a ‘situated curriculum’ (Gherardi, Nicolini  and Odella 1998).  It develops on research on workbased learning of early career academics through an experiential route to HEA Fellowship (Mathieson 2017). This research identified the importance of both formal and informal workbased learning opportunities, through participation in practices, induction into a community, and opportunities to develop an identity as a teacher in interaction with the disciplinary community. Importantly, it identified differences in the quality of situated learning opportunities afforded to early career academics across disciplinary workgroups: the current research will explore in more depth the experiences of early career academics across two disciplinary workgroups, Architecture and Engineering. This research will contribute to the development of a framework to support the workbased learning of early career academics at a particular institution, and shared across the sector through workshops, conferences and publication, while focusing attention on the pedagogical opportunities for exploring workbased learning afforded by the AP Apprenticeship.
Agi Ryder & Gillian Lazar Speaking the same language: Developing a language-aware feedback culture

The aim of this project is to explore the barriers multilingual academics face when providing students with feedback. This project builds on the findings of a previous project (Lazar and Ryder, 2017) that explored how educational developers can incorporate a language-aware approach to feedback when working with staff involved in learning and teaching. This was in order to enable staff to make appropriate linguistic choices when providing feedback so that it is more comprehensible and motivational for students.

While this small-scale project was successful in enhancing awareness among staff about the linguistic aspects of feedback, it also raised additional questions about the complexities of providing effective feedback, particularly for staff from a wide range of linguistic and cultural backgrounds. This current project focuses on exploring these complexities further, especially focusing on areas that many academics struggle with, including the challenges of providing students with feedback when both parties may speak English as a foreign language. The research aims to unpack these issues from both an educational and linguistic point of view in order to identify some examples of best practice and thus aid clear communication and enhance students’ learning.

Reference: ‘Gillian Lazar & Agi Ryder (2017): Speaking the same language: Developing a language-aware feedback culture, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, DOI: 10.1080/14703297.2017.1403940’
Helen Walmsley-Smith & Patrick Lynch Helping designers design: Proving learning designs using eDAT and Learning Analytics methods

Learning analytics offers opportunities to evaluate the effectiveness of blended and online learning designs to develop and improve guidance for tutors and learning designers. Learning analytics can include analysis of VLE data, student data including retention and attainment together with blended and online learning design data. However, quantifying learning designs is challenging and obtaining consistent and shareable learning design data is difficult. 

This project aims to provide a proof of concept for the eDAT combined with learning analytics, as an effective tool to provide quantifiable feedback on blended and online learning designs. The project will test the usefulness of the eDAT when categorising a variety of learning activities and representing the learning design in a quantified, shareable and understandable format.  

The blended and online learning designs will be compared to a range of interaction and feedback data from the VLE and to student retention and attainment data. This will provide an effective and reproducible evaluation of the design for tutors and learning designers that will inform further development.

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