The QAA Higher Education Review of the RVC in February 2015 recommended that “the College ensure all research students receive appropriate training before undertaking teaching and/or assessment.” 1. Currently we have a PG Cert in Veterinary Education that is compulsory for probationary lecturers only (although other academic staff from the RVC and elsewhere attend). There are many other staff at the RVC who teach and/or assess students in our educational programmes, including assistant lecturers, post-doctoral scientists, research fellows, PhD students, research assistants and other non-academic staff. These individuals teach undergraduate and postgraduate students on various courses in formal teaching sessions, through research project supervision (year 3 BSc and RP2 projects in particular), in practical sessions and in the teaching hospitals. At present we offer a variety of different training options to these groups on an optional basis.
Therefore, in response to the QAA recommendation we have decided to provide a short course for all staff and students who teach in the RVC’s educational programmes. This course - called “Teaching and Learning in Higher Education” (TLiHE) - will have flexible entry and exit points, with the option of building towards Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and the Postgraduate Certificate in Veterinary Education as appropriate for each individual.
All RVC staff and postgraduate students who teach and/or assess on educational courses at the RVC who have not completed prior training in education will undertake the relevant themes of TLiHE. The decision about which components of TLiHE are required should be made during a discussion between the individual and their line manager – for example during the annual appraisal.
Course details, enrolment and delivery
- The TLiHE course will be organised around teaching and learning themes such as small group facilitation (e.g. clinical, problem based learning, directed learning, integrated structure & function), large group teaching (e.g. lecturing, presentation at conferences), one-to-one support (e.g. research supervision, lab-based facilitation, tutoring), assessment (e.g. formative feedback and summative assessments) and distance learning, so that participants can easily select the most relevant parts of the course to their needs.
- As TLiHE is an M level course, the English language requirement as stipulated by the RVC Graduate School will apply.
- Once agreed by their line manager, participants will enroll on the course by emailing MScVetEdu@rvc.ac.uk saying whether they are attending part or all of the course.
- Completion of each section will be assessed according to learning outcomes of that section. The key to this is that participant provide evidence for their learning. The format of this evidence may vary from section to section and between participants. For example, evidence may be a reflective essay or an analysis of a peer observation or a video diary. The evidence provided will be assessed by two members of the MSC Veterinary Education team. Certificates will be offered to participants for each section of the course that they complete.
The following guidance is offered for those making a decision about training:
- Attending the entire TLiHE course is recommended for anyone who is teaching regularly throughout the academic year or using two or more of the teaching and learning methodologies on behalf of the RVC, at or outside the RVC.
- Teaching and learning methodologies are defined as small group facilitation (e.g. clinical, problem based learning, practicals, directed learning, integrated structure & function), large group teaching (e.g. lecturing, presentation at conferences), one-to-one support (e.g. research supervision, lab-based facilitation, tutoring), assessment (e.g. formative feedback and summative assessments) and distance learning. Teaching for distance learning courses includes teaching using webinars and asynchronous or synchronous discussion forums and tutorials.
- For those teaching or supervising less extensively, the most relevant theme(s) from the TLiHE course should be completed. For example, if assessment and/or feedback are the main responsibility the relevant themes from the TLiHE course should be completed.
- Assessment and Feedback includes supporting an academic staff member in setting and marking assessments, OSCEs, practical assessments, clinical rotation assessments and supervising research students at RP1, RP2, BSc and Masters level projects and providing verbal and/or written feedback to students on research projects.
- Regarding project supervision please see the guidelines that are offered to PhD supervisors and line managers at the end of the document*.
- If unsure of which themes are relevant, please seek advice from the TLiHE course team, PhD supervisor or line managers to decide on the appropriate themes.
* Guidelines for PhD supervisors and line-managers regarding project supervision
PhD students and other RVC staff members who are ‘assisting with project supervision’ should remember that an academic member of staff is actively involved in overseeing any project student whom they’re assisting. Additional points are:
- The academic is responsible for ensuring that there’s a programme of work in place (which the project student might have developed/been involved in helping to develop);
- The academic is responsible for ensuring the student has the necessary resources to carry out the agreed programme of work;
- The PhD student can contribute to supervision by showing the student how to carry out a particular technique(s), help them with troubleshooting problems as and when they arise, assist by collecting samples for them as long as it doesn’t interfere with their own work;
- The PhD student can provide the student with advice on how to write up their methods/present their results BUT the academic is responsible for reading and commenting on one or more drafts of a project report, according to the course guidelines on the amount of input allowed
It’s probably appropriate to allow post-docs more lee-way in respect of input to student project direction and/or providing feedback on written work (at an early stage) but still neither they nor a PhD student should be solely responsible for the final version of any written work that contributes to a UG or PGT students’ final marks in a unit of assessment.
Ayona Silva-Fletcher, Kim Whittlestone, Fiona Cunningham and David Church, April 2016