Friday, 12 August 2016

FHEA progress to date: Reflective Assessment Portfolio

This is part of my series of blogposts on gaining Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.

The route I am taking to gain Fellowship is through my work and is called APEX Open. This involves creating an electronic portfolio comprised of the following:
  • A 2000 word Reflective Assessment Portfolio (RAP)
  • Two 750 word case studies
  • A 500 word Professional Development Portfolio (PDP)
  • Two teaching observations
  •  Two references
  •  and a Student Evaluation Summary (SES)


Where I am right now

I have completed the 2000 word reflective assessment portfolio which consists of five short case studies and this is now with my mentor who is having a look at it.

Each case study is based on an Area of Activity within the UK Professional Standards Framework. To gain Associate Fellowship, which a Library Assistant may wish to work towards, a person has to provide evidence they have successfully engaged with at least two of these Areas. To gain Fellowship, which is more suited to Subject Librarians and Learning Technologists who spend more time teaching and directly supporting students, one is required to do all five.

Core knowledge and professional values

For each case study I have been required to write about how I build on core knowledge and utilise professional values to do each. These, again, are quite specific and consist of:

Core Knowledge:
These areas are:
  •  Design and plan learning activities and/or programmes of study
  • Teach and/or support learning
  • Assess and give feedback to learners
  • Develop effective learning environments and approaches to student support and guidance
  • Engage in continuing professional development in subjects/disciplines and their pedagogy, incorporating research, scholarship and the evaluation of professional practices
  • The subject material
  • Appropriate methods for teaching, learning and assessing in the subject area and at the level of the academic programme
  • How students learn, both generally and within their subject/disciplinary area(s)
  • The use and value of appropriate learning technologies
  • Methods for evaluating the effectiveness of teaching
  • The implications of quality assurance and quality enhancement for academic and professional practice with a particular focus on teaching

Professional values:
  • Respect individual learners and diverse learning communities
  • Promote participation in higher education and equality of opportunity for learners
  • Use evidence-informed approaches and the outcomes from research, scholarship and continuing professional development
  • Acknowledge the wider context in which higher education operates recognising the implications for professional practice

What’s been useful about undertaking this process so far is that it’s given me ‘permission’ to spend time refreshing my knowledge of pedagogical theories and understanding, such as behaviourism, constructivism, scaffolding, and deep versus surface learning. It has encouraged me to consider how well I know what the students have learned within my workshops and how it fits within the bigger picture of QAA Benchmark Statements and the upcoming Teaching Excellence Framework.

What next?

I am now starting to put together material for the two larger case studies. At this moment in time, I am considering focusing on technology use for one (PollEverywhere, Box of Broadcasts and Twitter) and style for the other (problem based learning or a game/activity). I’ll then need to be observed which won’t happen for a little while yet as Term 1 teaching is yet to start.

Has anyone else taken a similar approach to gaining FHEA status? What did you focus on in your case studies?

Friday, 22 July 2016

Approaches to staff development. Write up of #cpd25_rlt event

On 8th June I made my way down (pretty much) the entire length of the Metropolitan line to give a presentation at CPD25’s alternative approaches to library staff development and accreditation event. Cpd25 is the Staff Development and Training programme of the M25 Consortium of Academic Libraries which aims to provide training for library staff of institutions within the M25 region. The day was designed to give attendees a flavour of the various development routes staff working in higher education had taken that were considered out of the ‘norm’ or not specifically designed with librarians in mind. The norm being: attending University staff training days; LIS qualifications; CILIP chartership and qualifications; and conferences.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with going down the usual route of staff development and in one way it seems perfectly sensible to do so because when applying for jobs others will recognise what you’ve done and the value implicit within it. However, staff developments budgets are getting smaller, even in higher education which normally has much more money to play around with than their poorer further education counterparts. As a result of this, it seems sensible to consider alternatives to see if these could be beneficial too. 
The day itself:
After lunch, attendees learned how Elizabeth Charles from Birkbeck University had become a CMALT (chartered membership of Association for Learning Technology) holder - a portfolio- based open to anyone with strong interest in learning technology, not only learning technologists. Marina Burroughs from UEL talking about Associate Fellowship of Higher Education Academy (AFHEA) and how all library assistants, including shelvers, were able to complete this as they all met the criteria, despite not directly teaching students in workshop or lecture sessions. Finally, Paul Allchin, from the British Library, talked about his Erasmus work exchange to the Austrian National Library and how this had helped improve his German language skills. 
Flowers featured heavily in my presentation because.. well, PTTLs. Also, growing.

My bit:
I spoke about my experience doing a PTTLS (Preparing to teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector) in a previous job. It is a City and Guilds Course, now renamed as Level 3 Award in Teaching and Learning, and is aimed at those teaching adults. I completed this course because it was the only teaching qualification financially open to me at the time and I wanted to discover specific tips on teaching techniques, as well as a qualification to improve my job prospects. 
This practical, portfolio based course provided me with everything I set out to achieve, including ideas for lesson planning and structure. It improved my confidence and skills and provided my with the qualification I needed to land a job in higher education. Now, alongside my day to day offering of workshops and lectures to students and staff, I have a teaching and learning functional role and am working on my FHEA accreditation submission.
My presentation is available via HaikuDeck
What else is available?
Ultimately, these courses referred to were only a snapshot of some of the staff development opportunities available. While organisations have a responsibility to train their staff (and I’d recommend checking out what is on offer at your workplace as sometimes it can be quite hidden) , it is worth knowing what else is available that could be cheaper (or free) and more accessible than the ones mentioned, e.g. 
  • CILIP’s special interest groups provide training opportunities as well as bursaries to more traditional events, including the CILIP Information Literacy Group version of the PTTLS course
  • the excellent #UKLibChat is a great way of learn about a subject and network with peers while at home/on a train/wrangling small children/eating dinner
  • reading blogs and journal articles
  • Webinars, Youtube, groups on LinkedIn etc and, one I’ve personally found amazing, my peer group on Twitter