Kathy Charles (Executive Dean of Learning and Teaching), Rose Gann (Head of Social and Political Sciences), Jane McNeil (PVC Education), Patrick George (Head of Employee Relations, Policy and Strategic Workforce Planning). All authors from Nottingham Trent University.
There is still much work to be done in providing clarity and support for academic staff on scholarship and education career track especially in relation to academic promotion and progression (Chalmers, 2011; Fanghanel, 2016; Smith & Walker, 2021). At Nottingham Trent University in 2021/22 just 8% of Associate Professors were on the Teaching & Scholarship (T&S) pathway, with 85% on Teaching and Research (T&R). As well as being a minority, only small numbers were putting themselves forward for promotion on this pathway. The message from staff was that colleagues interested in this route felt that the work they were doing was not recognised in the promotion criteria, and that the criteria replicated the values of the research pathway rather than recognising the different ways of working that exist in T&S careers.
Seeking to address this, our PVC Education brought together a small group to draw on a range of skills, experience, and perspectives to develop a distinct and new set of criteria. We started with a blank sheet of paper so that we were not tempted to draw from or adapt existing criteria informed by the research pathway. This freed us up to think from first principles. Our sense was that staff struggled with the existing criteria, in part, because it did provide any space to set out scholarship identity. We wanted colleagues to be able to tell their scholarship story, so in our new criteria applicants are asked to provide a short (350 word) statement on their scholarship expertise. The thinking behind this was that it would allow colleagues to set the scene for their submission as well as to clearly state what they stand for. Following on from this our new approach asks colleagues to address five criteria with deeper focus on three of their choice. As we developed these criteria a clear logic for the order of them emerged. After teaching and design practice (1), came educational leadership and management (2), followed by focus on educational innovation, application, and change (3) and the resulting influence, external recognition, and esteem (4), finally we ask colleagues to provide evidence of collegiality, collaboration, and professional development (5).
Criteria (2) and (5) cover areas particularly important to recognise in this group of colleagues who often take on the responsibility of leading programmes and mentoring colleagues, showing tremendous professional generosity in how they approach their work and support others, yet struggle to gain formal recognition for such work. Criterion 5 also provides a way of recognising work that builds scholarly communities and promotes inclusive learning environments.
Since the launch of the new criteria in November 2022, there has been a 70% increase in applications on the T&S route and feedback has been positive. Our take-aways, are that it can help to develop criteria for promotion on the Teaching and Scholarship pathway away from existing criteria (avoiding pre-existing biases); provide space for scholarship identity or expertise to be freely articulated; and to align new criteria with institutional values.
Chalmers, D. (2011). Progress and challenges to the recognition and reward of the Scholarship of Teaching in higher education. Higher Education Research & Development, 30:1, 25-38, DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2011.536970.
Fanghanel, J., Pritchard, J., Potter, J., & Wisker, G. (2016). Defining and supporting the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL): A sector-wide study. Literature review. York: HE Academy.
Smith, S. & Walker, D. (2021). Scholarship and academic capitals: the boundaried nature of education-focused career tracks. Teaching in Higher Education, DOI 10.1080/13562517.2021.1965570
Twitter: Follow @ntutilt for more information about our activity in this area