The development of pedagogics and didactics for higher education teaching is an area of growing importance for universities, which in the past years had to respond to a larger and more diverse student body, while emphasising student-centred and learning outcomes.
However, oftentimes little attention has been given so far to the role and situation of teachers. The EFFECT project aims to facilitate the exchange of experience and effective methods in terms of university teachers’ development at the European level. By drawing upon such good practices, it will probe their transferability in other disciplinary, institutional and national contexts, while also assessing the feasibility of a European level structure that would support teaching enhancement in higher education.
EFFECT is led by the European University Association (EUA), and brings together experts, dedicated networks, organisations, national rectors’ conferences and institutions from different parts of Europe.
Several of the EFFECT consortium colleagues have now mapped the landscape of teaching and learning excellence prizes across higher education institutions in Europe, and evaluated their impact. Click here for the relevant article, published in the Journal of the European Higher Education Area, 2018, No. 2
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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Over the past decade, European systems and institutions have made efforts to reform and innovate higher education. In this regard, both the EU Modernisation Agenda and the Bologna Process have put a strong emphasis on issues such as student-centred learning, learning outcomes and skill orientation, and the need to enhance access and retention as well as the overall quality of higher education. Traditionally in this context, research staff has received more attention than teachers and the enhancement of teaching, which however seems to have become a priority for higher education institutions: Trends 2015 Learning and Teaching in European Universities suggests that most European universities have developed or are developing teaching enhancement initiatives.
Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how mainstreamed and effective these are, and differences between institutions of the same system suggest that such efforts are not yet shared and could benefit from more incentives and support at system level.
In this context, EFFECT will contribute to a clearer understanding on how to seize opportunities for enhancing teaching without compromising the diverse outlooks that specific national, institutional and disciplinary contexts require. The project, its initiatives and outcomes will hence contribute to providing a basis for policy discussions on the improvement of the European higher education learning and teaching processes.
The project will focus on the following interlinked objectives:
1. Facilitate exchange and collaboration between European actors and stakeholders for the enhancement of higher education teaching:
EFFECT brings together teaching and learning experts, practitioners, leaders from higher education institutions, dedicated organisations and networks as well as national rectors’ conferences from ten European countries, allowing them to exchange and collaborate on teaching enhancement and function as a professional network. In this way, good practices will be identified and disseminated and peer learning on innovative teaching will acquire an inter-institutional and inter-organisational dimension.
2. Identify good practices and develop new and innovative approaches to learning and teaching enhancement:
The project will develop materials on how teaching can respond to some of the opportunities and challenges in higher education (internationalisation, growing and diversified student body, need for more skills-orientation and employability, digital media literacy and proficient use). In doing this, EFFECT will consider the professional development of the academic staff.
3. Support institutions in the development of strategic approaches to the enhancement of learning and teaching:
Institutional support is also required for the enhancement of teaching in the European higher education. In this respect, institutional leadership needs to be supported in placing teaching excellence at the core of their strategic mission, thereby acknowledging its role in overall student success. As part of EFFECT, an institutional support package will be designed for accompanying higher education institutions in addressing this challenge.
4. Develop a model for a sustainable European structure for the enhancement of learning and teaching:
EFFECT will explore how a network of teaching and learning practitioners could be established in a sustained way, beyond the project lifetime. This structure would represent a platform where initiatives and best practices on teaching enhancement can be further discussed and disseminated.
The project reflects on several grand challenges for higher education teaching, such as the growing and ever more diverse student body; drop-out and retention; maximising opportunities and addressing the challenges of ICT-based learning; or recognising teaching excellence and its link to student success. Based on the expected outcomes, it may provide policy recommendations taking into account the European perspective and with the aim of enhancing higher education teaching.
There are four subsequent phases in the project:
1. Inception phase (2015-2016): mapping the target groups, their needs and the overall demand for a European structure for the enhancement of teaching.
2. Content development phase (2016): collecting good practice on teaching enhancement, creating material to respond to the two main target groups of EFFECT, i.e. academic teaching staff and institutional leadership.
3. Pilot phase (2017): testing outputs from previous phases, based on diverse modes of delivery.
4. Evaluation phase (2018): drafting a feasibility study, based on the findings and evidence gathered during previous phases. This study will explore a sustainable model for a European Forum for enhanced collaboration in teaching, propose recommendations in this regard, and provide concrete content and modes of delivery by which such a forum could respond to stakeholders’ demands.
Within EFFECT, activities are divided into three strands corresponding to three Working Groups:
This WG is testing materials and methodologies for academic staff development in higher education. These will be made available to a diverse group of European university teachers through a series of interactive workshops.
These workshops aim to raise awareness about two grand challenges in Learning and Teaching, namely inclusion and citizenship skills. Based on a revised change laboratory methodology , the workshops use open reflective questions to provoke discussions on these challenges, while encouraging participants to reflect on solutions to them.
|31 January 2017||University of Porto, Portugal||National audience|
|20 March 2017||Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary||Regional|
|22 August 2017||University of Eastern Finland||National audience|
|27 September 2017||Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France||Pan-European|
This WG brings together institutional leaders and experts for inter-institutional peer learning on the development and implementation of strategic, centralised approaches to teaching enhancement. The group will develop a strategy support package that will be tested at several higher education institutions.
The strategy support package will be based on and derived from a set of Ten European Principles for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching. These principles are non-prescriptive and were developed through discussions with a wide range of European stakeholders in higher education. They stress the need to re-emphasise the education mission of universities, and seek to assist institutional leaders working with staff, students and external stakeholders to ensure the quality and relevance of higher education in an ever-changing world.
Following a call for participation, the following higher education institutions were selected to take part in a pilot using the Principles for designing their institutional strategy in L&T:
·Instituto Superior Tecnico, University of Lisbon, Portugal
·Koç University, Turkey
·KU Leuven, Belgium
·Ulster University, United Kingdom
·University Mediterranea Reggio Calabria, Italy
·University of Agder, Norway
·University of Eastern Finland, Finland
·University of Exeter, United Kingdom
·University of Freiburg, Germany
·University of Hamburg, Germany
·University Pompeu Fabra – Barcelona, Spain
·Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU Wien), Austria
Based on the results of WG1 and WG2, WG3 will develop models and scenarios for the feasibility study.
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