College and LTU Teaching Awards: Guidelines for developing a draft
At La Trobe University, care has been taken to ensure that College awards and institutional awards (LTU Citations for Contributions to Student Learning) address the same criteria and are in the same format as national awards allocated by the Office for Teaching and Learning awards (OLT Citations for Contributions to Student Learning).
This means that if you prepare an application for a College award, you will require minimal changes for an institutional award, and theoretically, a national award. It is worth noting however, that a national award has a slightly different focus, and therefore often requires some re working during the preparation stage.
Despite these subtle differences, the same criteria are used. The template that follows outlines one format for these awards and is offered as a way into the writing process. This has proven to be effective in developing applications that clearly show evidence required in applications.
The document is 4 pages long- deceptively short!
You need to address ONE of 4 criteria identified in the guidelines (For example, Approaches to teaching and the support of learning that influence, motivate and inspire students to learn is the first one listed).However assessors will make judgements about whether the contribution addressing any of the criteria has:
- influenced student learning, student engagement or the overall student experience
- gained recognition from fellow staff, the Head of School or Department and/or the broader community.
- provided evidence of sustainability of no less than three consecutive years (two years for Early Career nominations)
This means that evidence against these areas should be very obvious in the application.
This structure makes it clear to the reader where the evidence against each of the areas (a, b, c) above is located in the application.
Heading: Description of Context and nature of the contribution
Heading: Evidence that the contribution influenced student learning, student engagement or the overall student experience
Heading: Evidence that the contribution gained recognition fellow staff, the Head of School or Department and/or the broader community
Heading: Evidence of sustainability of no less than 3 consecutive years.
Note: if there is an additional area as required by FBEL, you will need to devote approximately ¾ of a page per area.
Page 1: Context and nature of the contribution
There are 3 elements that need to be covered here:
- The Problem. What have you observed about how students learn in your class and what they misunderstand or have problems in learning.
This gives you an opportunity to talk about yourself, how long you have been working at LTU and your discipline/area of specialisation/the nature of your teaching environment (f-2-f, blended, online etc.), and the numbers of cohorts.
As an economist/biologist/historian, I observed since coming to La Trobe University in 2008 that undergraduate students in their first year of study often misunderstand a key idea that is critical to their success in economics/biology/history. As I teach large first year subjects with over 500 students, with the delivery in blended learning environments, this is a challenge…. This then opens up the way for you to demonstrate your understanding about your discipline and student learning in it.
Understanding (concept/idea/skills) is identified as critical to the success of students (refs). Specifically, they need to develop key skills in economics/biology/history. There is a recognised need for graduates in this field to be able to undertake tasks/think critically/ etc.
- The problem solution. What you have done to address this problem you have observed in your teaching.
This gives you an opportunity to talk about why you adopted the approach/developed curricula/developed approaches to assessment/attended to the needs of students as learners/undertook scholarly activities. It gives you a way into describing the students – the nature of the cohorts in your classes and why this is apt in this setting and some key research that guided the adoption of your problem solution.
I decided that the best way to respond to these issues was to inspire, motivate and engage students/develop a curriculum that supports xxx/ develop assessment strategies etc etc. In doing this I drew on work by xx x which shows that interventions of this nature are successful (refs) with students in these learning environments facing these challenges (specify). However, the needs of my students were slightly different so I developed xxx in response to this.
This then means that you can briefly describe what it is that you have done. For example, if it is a curriculum reform, describe (in dot points) its components, if it is an approach, describe (in dot points) its key aspects.
- The outcomes:What you have observed about student learning as a result of devising this intervention to address this problem.
This gives you an opportunity to summarise your key claims and back them up with a summary of evidence.
Since introducing this (must be at least 3 years ago) student learning has improved as measured by student satisfaction with the subject (up from xx to xx), student retention (up from x to x) and student progression (up from x to x).
You also list other outcomes including awards you have been given/ your students have been given/publications or presentations you have made – almost anything!
Page 2: Evidence that the contribution influenced student learning, student engagement or the overall student experience
The easiest way to go about this is to structure it around the three elements above
Influence on student learning
This can include evidence that the activity has inspired students to learn. Go through formal student feedback on subjects and teaching and look for the questions that ask students whether the teacher was interested in the subject, or inspired them to learn. See if you can summarise from the same cohort over three years and present it in a table. This should be written as a narrative – don't' create a shopping list of unconnected items. You need to speak to the table.
As indicated in the table below, the approach/curriculum/assessment process/ attention to individuals/scholarly approach (name it) inspires and motivates students to learn in different ways/more productively (etc.).
Select some student comments that illustrate that they have been inspired and motivated to learn. You need to make sure that if you say that the intervention has supported students to be inspired/motivated to do xxxx that the quote illustrates that students now do this thing.
Other data may be an improvement in assignments in on time or other things you have observed.
You can add data from other sources including colleagues who are in a position to comment on your work. Make sure that they are commenting on your intervention and its capacity to inspire and motivate.
You can also point to student outcomes such as jobs in the field – i.e. they were motivated to achieve.
This can be demonstrated in a number of ways, including:
- Number of hits to a website
- Participation in discussions undertaken in the LMS (online discussions are a good source of data about the student experience- especially if you ask them about their experiences);
- Number of downloads of resources – e.g. I Tunes
- Group activities and products arising from these (e.g. reports).
- Observations from others involved in activities – e.g. off site coordinators and supervisors
- Quotes from students
- Quotes from colleagues, including external peer reviewers
Again, you need to make sure that this is not a shopping list, but a narrative that continues to tell the story of your intervention.
Overall student experience
This is where a table showing overall student satisfaction with the subject or teaching over 3 years is located. Make sure that it shows an upward trend and include the School average – make sure yours is above that. Provide a narrative around it, so that it continues the story.
Page 3: Structure
Evidence that the contribution gained recognition from fellow staff, the Head of School or Department and/or the broader community
Again, the easiest way to structure this is to do it using the three headings identified above.
Recognition from fellow staff
For a College award, the scope will be less than for an institutional or OLT award. At a minimum you need to have comments from colleagues who are in a position to comment on your work. Make sure the comments speak directly to the intervention you have undertaken.
In developing my curriculum/approach/assessment process I sought feedback from colleagues in the field on the value to students/capacity to inspire etc. The following is an extract from our discipline convenor: this is of value because it directly inspires students to engage with difficult concepts in interesting ways. As a long term academic with expertise in the field, I consider this one of the best examples of xxxx.
At the College level you can talk about recognition of your expertise in terms of roles and responsibilities- subject and course co-ordination- relate this back to the intervention you have devised though as you are seeking recognition for excellence in a specific area. At the institutional level you need to talk about how your work has inspired others to adopt the same approach etc. At the national level you need to have evidence of leading teaching and learning – for example, participation in an OLT grant, institutional grants etc.
You can mention publications, conference presentations and other activities where you have disseminated what you have learned about how students learn.
An awards you have won can be added here, including those conducted outside of the institution – e.g. the Uni Jobs awards or discipline awards.
Recognition from Head of School or Department/University
For a College award you will have a reference from your Head of School, but in this part of the application you can revisit what is said and highlight aspects you want to draw attention to.
You can also include participation on university committees and other decision making groups (working groups etc.) where you have been invited to participate. Outline the nature of your contribution in terms of your expertise in learning and teaching and specifically the focus of the application.
Recognition from the broader community
In a College award this can be in the form of comments from placements coordinators (where relevant to your application). In institutional application and national applications, you need to draw on more formal feedback which (you have set up) from external partners or stakeholders. This could be outlined in a table that you speak to. You may also be able to use the success of your students: their recognition by the community could be linked to the work you have undertaken.
Page 4: Sustained over time
This is also where you show iterations of the intervention (approach/curriculum/assessment protocols etc.). For example: growth in the number of students and subjects. This should be in a table format with an explanatory statement – a paragraph- outlining each of the iterations and the additions made as it went through change.
If you have enough iterations, you can provide student quotes from each iteration that illustrate how the new elements were received and how students perceived them.
You can also include evidence – quotes- from colleagues who can comment on the way the iterations evolved.
You can also give an overview of your publications relevant to the intervention – especially if they were produced with each iteration. You can also talk here about your career if it is relevant here showing how you expanded your skills and knowledge over time.
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