‘There’s a real power in being a collective’
At many institutions, the vast majority of staff – provided they meet a threshold of competence – are not rewarded for their contributions to teaching. While many university leaders are committed to improving the recognition of teaching, the challenge lies in the absence of clear and accepted definitions of progressive ‘levels’ of teaching achievement at each stage of the career ladder. The Career Framework for University Teaching was developed to guide and support academic professionals in their career progression.
The Career Framework for University Teaching, developed by Ruth Graham (independent higher education consultant) defines the academic sphere of impact and the promotion criteria for each teaching level as well as looks for different forms of evidence that can be used to demonstrate achievement. A second identified challenge is how to measure teaching achievement. This became evident in the inadequacy of the forms of evidence used to demonstrate and evaluate the teaching contribution of academics at each stage in their career progression.
Momentum for change
A concrete result of the Framework is the community of university leaders and changemakers that come together to talk about systemic institutional reform. “This was not just about creating a Framework, it’s about a community that are actively working together to implement systemic change to how teaching is rewarded and recognised. There’s a real power in being a collective: working together to share ideas and war stories, which has added enormous momentum to the change effort,” says Graham. This sentiment is echoed by Martin Björklund, acting university lecturer of the University of Helsinki. Twenty years ago the University of Helsinki’s medical faculty pushed for investment in training their teachers. They planted the seed for the ecosystem of the University of Helsinki Teachers’ Academy as it is today; a community of 90 professionals. “The most important outcome of the Academy has been the dynamic interaction within the community, creating a real knowledge pool about how teaching works,” says Björklund.