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This chapter reflects on xCHANGE, a month-long festival marking International Women's Day (IWD) at Birmingham City University, UK. The author first problematizes…
This chapter reflects on xCHANGE, a month-long festival marking International Women's Day (IWD) at Birmingham City University, UK. The author first problematizes expectations of IWD and then outlines the origins of the festival, detailing both practical aspects and program content. The chapter then considers the festival through a lens of “power geometry” (Massey, 1993) in which female academics are positioned in distinct ways in relation to flows and interconnections of power within the university. Does the xCHANGE festival disrupt or merely reflect this power geometry? Does it create conditions for women to thrive in academia?
This chapter attempts to capture what teaching excellence looks and feels like for students. Our research reports on research conducted by two student authors at separate…
This chapter attempts to capture what teaching excellence looks and feels like for students. Our research reports on research conducted by two student authors at separate institutions. It suggests that the most crucial aspect of the student experience of ‘teaching excellence’ is a teacher's ability to build rapport and create meaningful interpersonal relationships with their students. Leanne Hunt's research was conducted with her fellow students at the University of Bradford. She outlines how, for her participants, the student–teacher rapport informed a positive learning experience which translated into a mutual understanding of excellent teaching. Widening participation, college-based HE student Hollie Shaw, now at Sheffield Hallam University, defines teaching excellence as flexible enough to respond to student learning needs, but strong enough to inspire interest in the discipline. In this chapter, we consider their separate testimonies carefully: we argue that exploring unconscious bias furthers understanding of how differences between student and teacher may compromise interpersonal relations and so student recognition of a tutor's positive and crucial role in the student experience and the implications of how one might measure this given the emphasis on proxies for teaching excellence in the TEF. We suggest breaking down unconscious bias calls for embracing differences, reflection and recognising the complexities of contemporary staff and student university lives. This chapter's exploration of staff–student partnership opens up potential for the creation of more equitable and honest learning dynamics in higher education – where a nuanced understanding of ‘teaching excellence’ can be defined, understood and evidenced within a HEI, with external bodies such as the Office for Students, and included in the Teaching Excellence Framework.
This chapter critically engages with ways that teaching excellence has been operationalised in practice. Specific focus is on developing individual teaching excellence…
This chapter critically engages with ways that teaching excellence has been operationalised in practice. Specific focus is on developing individual teaching excellence, rewarding of success and recognition of teaching excellence and the building of evidence around what works in teaching for the benefits of students. We consider the daily interactions with students that form the basis of frameworks of teaching excellence before arguing that operationalisations of teaching excellence are highly context specific and operate at the level of institutions and the whole higher education sector. We discuss the criteria that underpin teaching excellence awards. This includes governance as well as development frameworks. After considering the complex links between research and teaching and the importance of the disciplinary dimension of teaching excellence, the chapter finally looks at the skills and attributes commonly associated with individual teacher excellence and argues that these are exceptionally difficult to pin down let alone measure. It concludes with some reflections on some of the challenges faced by institutions as they seek to develop the quality of teaching whilst meeting the requirements of the TEF.
Taken at face value, it may initially seem difficult to argue with the sentiments enshrined in the rhetoric that surrounds the TEF – raising the status of teaching in Higher Education (HE), rebalancing its relationship with research, incentivising institutions to focus on the quality of teaching and making them more accountable for ‘how well they ensure excellent outcomes for their students in terms of graduate-level employment or further study’ (OfS, 2018, p. 1). Clearly, these are laudable aspirations that will chime with anyone who believes in the importance of students experiencing an education that enriches and transforms them and their potential. Drawing on Fraser and Lamble's (2014/2015) use of queer theory in relation to pedagogy, however, this chapter aims to expose the TEF not just ‘as a landmark initiative that is designed to further embed a neoliberal audit and monitoring culture into Higher Education’ (Rudd, 2017, p. 59) but as a constraining exercise that restrains diversity and limits potential. Although queer theory is more usually linked with gender and sexuality studies, Fraser and Lamble show us that it can be used ‘in its broader political project of questioning norms, opening desires and creating possibilities’ (p. 64). In this way, the queer theoretical lens used here helps us to question, disrupt and contest the essentialising hegemonic logics behind the nature and purposes of the TEF and its effects in HE classrooms. Using the slantwise position of the homosexual (Foucault, 1996), this queer analysis of the TEF can thus be helpful as a politically generative exercise in opening up space for new possibilities.
This chapter provides an introduction to the problematic notion of teaching excellence in higher education, which is a focus of this collection. It draws on an extensive…
This chapter provides an introduction to the problematic notion of teaching excellence in higher education, which is a focus of this collection. It draws on an extensive review of relevant literature to explore how teaching excellence is defined and conceptualised and what factors underpin different conceptions. It notes that definitions are disparate, often context-specific and are influenced by a range of different ‘players’. It then examines how different conceptualisations play out at the macro, meso and micro levels and highlights the tensions between performative and transformative notions of teaching excellence. It notes the move from ‘surface’ to ‘deep’ excellence and efforts to articulate a more holistic conception of teaching excellence that emphasises the relational, emotional and moral dimensions of teaching. It suggests that, rather than seeking singular definitions and conceptions, it may be more useful to talk of ‘teaching excellences’, to reflect a stratified and plural sector, a diverse student body and different disciplinary families. Equally, it argues for further investigation of the intersections of teaching excellence with other key drivers of institutional change, such as student engagement and well-being, inclusion and diversity, widening participation and retention and success.