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Jay Dempster, Centre for Academic Practice, University of Warwick

Warwick’s teaching is demonstrably excellent with consistently high scores and feedback in TQA / Subject Review, successive academic audits and high numbers of student applications across the board. The range of skills development and accredited courses (for both staff and students) has grown substantially. The number of innovative educational developments is growing, enabled by a much improved IT infrastructure and student facilities, including e-learning tools and the Learning Grid that support students in new kinds of learning, as well as a range of funding opportunities (internally and externally) that support staff in undertaking more substantive projects. However, these are central initiatives and it remains difficult to capture examples in departments where staff and groups are fundamentally revising their courses.

A growing number of academic and support staff at Warwick show a particular interest or expertise in teaching and in enhancing students’ learning or have a formal role in directing teaching. CAP and others put considerable effort into making the work of these individuals widely visible. There are academic staff who are recognised through Warwick Awards for Teaching Excellence, through promotion, wholly or partly, on the basis of teaching excellence; those who undertake an accredited programme; those who engage in educational development projects. For support staff, there are at least three professional bodies that offer fellowships and accreditation to recognise capability and achievement in a higher education support role.

Nevertheless, there is concern about the extent to which we are presenting a true impression of our excellence in teaching and learning, a concern for and pride in its development, within as well as beyond the University. It may be worth considering ways in which we can encourage a sense of community among those who contribute to teaching innovation and excellence.

The ways by which we share innovation and good practice in teaching and learning are through the usual conferences, seminars and workshops, and project websites. These offer opportunities to ‘showcase’ departmental and central developments and enable a snapshot of different activities and services across the University. Another way is through a regular publication such as Interactions, in which articles offer an opportunity to go beyond the ‘what’ and ‘how’ and present the evidence for ‘why’. Articles review and reflect on new methods, planned or implemented, and in so doing, afford a much deeper insight of the academic rationale, plans, processes and outcomes. This enables staff to make use or, and contribute to, evidence-informed accounts of educational development that one would expect to find in a research-led institution.

It is with this in mind that we have been encouraging further contribution to the Interactions journal from Warwick staff through the Teaching Enhancement Awards (TEA) scheme. In this issue, all four articles are the case studies of successful TEA applicants in the last round, which have been peer reviewed by colleagues in departments.

Dr Jay Dempster
Deputy Director
Centre for Academic Practice
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 24 7652 4670
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