With the introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the status of teaching has been moved towards the centre of concerns in the UK higher education (HE) sector. This interest develops further the notion of teaching excellence created through various institutional and sectoral schemes such as the Higher Education Academy (HEA) fellowship. Whilst excellence schemes and the TEF all highlight the importance of teaching, they also run the danger of reducing it to lists and simplified proxies.
This chapter argues that reductive characterisations of teaching, through metrics supporting the TEF, such as the national student survey, or ‘idealised’ descriptions of the foundational aspects of ‘excellent practice’, all lead to partial accounts of the teaching process. Such characterisations might lead to creeping performativity and increasing organisational attempts to control. An alternative account of teaching is proposed based on complexity theory. This sees teaching as emergent, multifaceted and contextually based. It refutes notions of ‘best practice’ and argues that any attempt to capture ‘excellent practice’ is to reduce the holistic nature of the processes that bring teaching, learning, curriculum and assessment together.
Wood, P. (2017), "From Teaching Excellence to Emergent Pedagogies: A Complex Process Alternative to Understanding the Role of Teaching in Higher Education", French, A. and O’Leary, M. (Ed.) Teaching Excellence in Higher Education (Great Debates in Higher Education), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 39-74. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78714-761-420171003
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