Guide to preparing a College Award application

Guide to preparing a College Award application [DOCX 77KB]
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Introduction

Requirements for College awards mirror requirements for national Citations for Contributions to Student Learning offered by the Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT). A critical purpose of the College awards is to provide academics with responsibilities for teaching and/or professional staff supporting teaching with an opportunity to prepare for an Institution or OLT application.

Heads of School are required to endorse the Nomination, and ensure that the Nominee is given adequate time to develop the Nomination. The Head of School is also required to provide the reference in support of the nomination.

It is expected that the College Pro Vice-Chancellor will comment on drafts of the submission.

Additional evidence is not required, as the Selection Panel will rely primarily on the evidence presented in the nomination.

Scholarly practice in teaching

The advice below seeks to elicit evidence of scholarly practice in teaching. A submission is understood and defined as the product of this practice. Applications should describe the Nominee's practice by drawing on evidence from the Nominee's peers, their students and the Nominee themselves. The development of an application requires Nominees to consider how approaches adopted meet the needs of students.

In adopting this approach, scholarly teaching is defined as:

'…grounded in critical reflection using systematically and strategically gathered evidence, related and explained by well-reasoned theory and philosophical understanding, with the goal of maximizing learning through effective teaching.'(Potter & Kustra 2011:3).

It is understood as distinct from the Scholarship of Learning and Teaching (SOLT) which is not necessarily related to scholarly teaching. For example, it is possible for a teacher to engage in scholarly teaching, but not be engaged in SOLT (often because of time constraints).

From this perspective, SOLT is 'a discrete activity focused on the systematic study of learning and teaching, using established or validated criteria of scholarship, to understand how teaching (beliefs, behaviours, attitudes, and values) can maximize learning, and/or develop a more accurate understanding of learning, resulting in products that are publicly shared for critique and use by an appropriate community.' (ibid: 2) (emphasis added).

It is expected that Nominations for College awards will be the result of critical reflection on practice arising from scholarly teaching practice. These may include evidence of SOLT as defined above, but this is not essential. Nominators, Nominees and Heads of School are advised to ask not only 'what works? (in the teaching approaches adopted)' in the development of dialogue that can support critical reflection, but also:

  • For whom did it work?
  • In what context?; and
  • Why?

(Source: Kreber 2012)

By asking these questions, it will be possible to establish descriptions of the distinctive aspects of curriculum and pedagogy at LTU. These aspects are at the core of excellent teaching at LTU and give expression to the values outlined in LTU's Future Ready Strategy.

Criteria & their assessment

The assessment of applications against the criteria is based on idea that teaching in this context – at LTU- requires excellence, in light of the defining features of our student cohorts. At LTU, it is defined by the ability to meet the needs of students, and this can be done by asking: what works for these students and why does it work?

You must select ONE of the areas below.

Focus of Statement

  • Approaches to teaching and the support of learning that influence, motivate and inspire students to learn
    This may include fostering student development by stimulating curiosity and independence in learning; participating in effective and empathetic guidance and advice for students; assisting students from equity and other demographic subgroups to participate and achieve success in their courses; encouraging student engagement through the enthusiasm shown for learning and teaching; inspiring and motivating students through effective communication, presentation and interpersonal skills; enabling others to enhance their approaches to learning and teaching; and developing and/or integrating assessment strategies to enhance student learning.
  • Development of curricula, resources or services that reflect a command of the field
    This may include developing and presenting coherent and imaginative resources for student learning; implementing research-led approaches to learning and teaching; demonstrating up-to-date knowledge of the field of study in the design of the curriculum and the creation of resources for learning; communicating clear objectives and expectations for student learning; providing support to those involved in the development of curricula and resources; and contributing professional expertise to enhance curriculum or resources.
  • Evaluation practices that bring about improvements in teaching and learning
    Evaluation comprises making judgements about the quality of programs and activities that are part of the academic, cultural and social experience of higher education. This may include showing advanced skills in evaluation and reflective practice; using a variety of evaluation strategies to bring about change; adapting evaluation methods to different contexts and diverse student needs and learning styles; contributing professional expertise to the field of evaluation in order to improve program design and delivery; and the dissemination and embedding of good practice identified through evaluation.
  • Innovation, leadership or scholarship that has influenced and enhanced learning and teaching and/or the student experience
    This may include participating in and contributing to professional activities related to learning and teaching; innovations in service and support for students; coordination, management and leadership of courses and student learning; conducting and publishing research related to teaching; demonstrating leadership through activities that have broad influence on the profession; providing innovative learning and teaching for different contexts, including technology enhanced environments, for large and small class sizes and/or to meet the needs of a diverse student cohort; and influencing the overall academic, social and cultural experience of higher education.

Criteria

The nomination will be judged on the extent to which it shows evidence (in the written statement) that the nominee's contribution has:

  1. influenced student learning, student engagement or the overall student experience
  2. gained recognition from fellow staff, the institution, and/or the broader community
  3. been sustained over time.

Assessment

The Selection Panel will make global judgements about the standards of excellence demonstrated in nominations on three levels:

Excellence

Excellence is defined by being able to understand the learning needs of LTU students and develop responses to these so that you can answer- why does this work with these students in this context? Awareness of distinctive needs of cohorts, and ability to act on these understandings, is at the core of definitions of excellence used in assessing submissions. This entails the ability to take pre-existing ideas and concepts and re-invent them in this context.

The criteria require demonstration of knowledge of the concept of student-centred learning and its application in teaching and its evaluation. To make a case for excellence in teaching, the applicant(s) needs to be able to articulate a position about how attention to understanding student needs and acting on them, is central to the work of the applicant(s) their field or discipline. So, who does this work for (this approach to teaching, and these students) is an important question to address in the Nomination.

The Selection Panel will use the descriptors of Standards of expertias a guide to scoring, but will make an overall assessment of excellence in the terms described above. That is; the Selection Panel will assess whether what you do meets the needs of students at LTU by taking concepts and ideas and reworking them to the specific demands of the context.

Developing excellence

An applicant will be judged as developing excellence where there is evidence of growing awareness of the distinctive needs of students, and a growing line of enquiry about why ideas and concepts are working to address these. In these submissions, there would be evidence of the adoption of pre-existing ideas and concepts and the application of these, but without substantial reworking, evaluation and development.

As in the case above, the Selection Panel will make a global assessment of the practice described in addressing the selection criteria to determine the standard met.

Good practice

An applicant (s) will be judged as engaging in good practice expected in everyday teaching where there is evidence in the application of principles of good teaching practice found in generic documentation such as the AVCC guide or LTU policies related to teaching and learning. In these, there would be evidence of techniques and strategies in-use, and knowledge of institutional requirements to assure the quality of learning and teaching.

A global judgement will be made on the basis of responses to specified criteria.

Developing the application

Establishing that you have a case

You need to engage in collaborative effort with a trusted colleague or collaborators with a view to developing successive drafts of the application. You will need to have established that you can demonstrate that you understand the learning needs of students at LTU and have developed innovative approaches to addressing these.

You can ask a series of questions to get the process started:

  • Who are the students? (course/unit reflecting discipline or field)
  • Why is the teaching effective in this context? (what do we know about the student cohort?, what do you know about how students learn in this discipline/field etc from the literature?))
  • What is it that makes it distinctive to their needs?

An overarching question that might get to this is:

  • Why do you do this?

This questioning gives you access to the formulation of a philosophy or a set of beliefs about how students learn (in the discipline or field, not in general) that can be used in the application. This is important because the application needs to reflect this set of beliefs or philosophy, either explicitly or implicitly and be addressed in the text.

Establishing that you have the evidence

There are three sources of data: your peers, yourself and your students.

Evidence from peers

If you have asked a colleague to observe your teaching (online or f-2-f) and offer comments, ask for these comments. They may be useful to integrate into the application. You only need 3-4 key quotes. Quotes from both these sources should be used in the Application and should illustrate claims that are made about the attainment of excellence.

If you have asked a colleague from outside of LTU who is in your field/discipline and to comment on your teaching, ask them for their comments. You need as above, 3-4 quotes.

If you have developed teaching materials/resources/policy documents/course and curriculum materials that have influenced how work was undertaken at the local and institutional levels and beyond you need to integrate these into the application.

If you have that you have been involved in presentations to colleagues and students you should list these where appropriate.

If you have received awards or grants related to learning and teaching activities, or published books/chapters/articles derived from teaching you have authored/co-authored, these should be identified in the application.

Evidence from your own practice

Your key task is to develop some clear descriptions of your teaching practice through discussion with your mentor or other colleagues.

You need to formulate a series of claims that you are willing to make about your teaching – these need to be compared with those developed through dialogue with your colleagues, so that you are comfortable with them (it is common for applicants to underplay their contributions and modify their claims, so you need to discuss this with colleagues).

You also need to look at what you have in your archive of teaching materials and student assessments so that you can assemble some evidence in support of the claims.

Evidence from students

Your main task is to look for sources of information about the benefits your teaching has delivered to students. Your focus should be on outcomes such as what students have achieved, not inputs such as teaching resources etc., though these are important in establishing your competence in developing materials and resources in line with your philosophy. Student outcomes need to be identified and can include:

  • Demonstrable rises in standards achieved by students you teach;
  • Students who have achieved recognition for their achievements which can be related to how and what you teach;
  • Employment outcomes for cohorts of students you teach.

See the Checklist (Attachment 1) for a comprehensive list.

You can also prepare a brief 100 word case studyillustrating a key point that can be boxed and added to the text. The case study will illustrate your teaching beliefs and values in-action.

Writing the application

The main task is to prepare a statement addressing the selected focus of the statement. This includes evidence that supports these claims. It is 4 pages long.

The claim will comprise a series of sub-claims, and evidence in support of these may be presented either in relation to each sub-claim or more globally.

You will need to respond to drafts and flesh out any claims with evidence you have in your archives.

An important feature of your contribution is that you convey who you are as a teacher – your enthusiasm and commitment to teaching and what drives you. In short, your job is to give the submission your 'voice' as a teacher, so that it is clear to the reader what you are like in the classroom and how you conduct yourself.

Structure

Though there are many ways of addressing the assessment criteria for these awards, 2 generic templates are offered as a starting point for anyone commencing the process.

Template 1 (Recommended)

Page 1
Heading: Description of Context and nature of the contribution (half page)
Page 1 & 2
Heading: Claim 1 which includes evidence from each of the three areas below
Page  2 & 3
Heading: Claim 2 which includes evidence from each of the three areas below
Page 3 & 4
Heading: Claim 3 which includes evidence from each of the three areas below

Areas: Evidence that:

  1. the contribution influenced student learning, student engagement or the overall student experience;
  2. gained recognition fellow staff, the Head of School or Department and/or the broader community
  3. sustainability of no less than 3 consecutive years.

Template 2

Page 1- Heading: Description of Context and nature of the contribution
Page 2- Heading: Evidence that the contribution influenced student learning, student engagement or the overall student experience
Page 3- Heading: Evidence that the contribution gained recognition fellow staff, the Head of School or Department and/or the broader community
Page 4- Heading: Evidence of sustainability of no less than 3 consecutive years.

Advice to Heads of School

Addressing the criteria

Your key task is to endorse the application and ensure that it is an accurate reflection of the work of the applicants (s), and of a standard you deem acceptable. In doing this you take responsibility for providing feedback to the applicant about the nomination.

The perspective you bring to the application is the School perspective, and your endorsement should speak to the contribution made by the applicant to the School and its culture of learning and teaching.

The Head of School is required to provide the reference that comments on the nominee's contribution to the School and the wider discipline/field of study.

Persuasive evidence

You should ensure that the applicant has access to relevant data. This entails ensuring that the applicant makes a request to PIPU regarding data from Student feedback on Teaching (SfT) and Student feedback on Subject (SfS). You will be able to comment in your reference to the Applicant's performance relative to the School's and the College's performance.

You can also comment on the applicant's reputation in the discipline/field, within and outside the institution.

Your reference should identify how teaching is approached by the applicant and the benefits of this to the School. Other outcomes such as employment outcomes and timely graduation/completion can also be the focus of your comments.

References

Kreber, C, (2010), Empowering the scholarship of teaching and learning: Towards an authentic practice, SOLT Commons Conference, Statesboro, Georgia Southern University, 10-12 March 2010.

Potter, M & Kustra, E, (2011),The Relationship between Scholarly Teaching and SoTL: Models, Distinctions, and Clarifications, International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Vol. 5, No. 1 (January 2011)


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