• QA—teaching and learning development centers: A closer look (2)

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    Last of two parts

    LAST week we reiterated our presentation of teaching and learning development centers in universities around the world. Such centers are considered quality assurance facilities, whose primary purpose is to support academics obtain exposure to best practice in the pedagogy of their respective disciplines as well as aligned disciplines. For this role, the centers maintain the necessary staff and invited needed experts.

    Our examples of such centers included those of British universities— University of Southampton Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit and St. Andrews University Centre for Transformative Teaching and Learning. Among those in US universities, we mentioned California State University -Faculty Center for Professional Development and the University of Hawaii’s Center for Instructional Support. In Asian universities, our examples were the Hong Kong Baptist University Centre for Holistic Teaching and Learning and the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s Centre for Teaching and Learning. No bias in the choice of examples, except perhaps my inclination toward British universities of which I am quite familiar, having been exposed to them during further studies and study visits.

    These centers are a common quality assurance facility in universities across the world. Sadly, we do not have such facilities in Philippine universities—some phase of the development process we are going through.

    The average Philippine university has been deeply involved for ages in instruction and less, if not nil, in research, which is why our attention at present is more focused on fostering a research culture. In contrast, universities across borders have been deeply entrenched in research similar to universities set up centuries ago. However, in these later decades, these universities are fostering the scholarship of teaching and learning, better known as SOTL—a fertile area for research. “Quality teaching in higher education matters for student learning outcomes,” begins the foreword of the OECD (2013) sponsored manual on Fostering Quality Teaching in Higher Education: Policies and Practices and lists T/L development centers as top support for academics.

    UK universities maintain T/L development centers. Researchers, even those who are Nobel Prize winners, must also learn how to appropriately communicate in conducting their courses and the knowledge they create, to a wider set of students. Thus, continuing professional development (CPD) efforts boosted structured support for T/L development of academics in the form of T/L enhancement centers, without undervaluing research.

    How does a typical T/L support/center operate in its primary function to assist academics in their instructional duties? Let’s have a closer look into such facilities. Hong Kong Baptist University’s Centre for Holistic Teaching and Learning (CHTL), understandably, carries the tradition of British universities. So does too, the center for T/L enhancement at the Singapore National University. We quote here the function of CHTL. The CHTL works in partnership with academic colleagues to foster continuous quality learning and teaching at HKBU. It aims to reinforce the student-centred, whole-person and outcome-oriented ethos of learning and teaching in the University. The CHTL will leverage latest e-Learning technology with innovative pedagogies to advance good practice in teaching as well as co-curricular activities, thereby enhancing the existing holistic environment to be even more conducive to student learning.

    Its services for the half of this year include the monthly conduct of seminars, workshops, conferences involving “Teaching and Learning Experience Sharing (TALES).” Its own portal announces the training schedule in these topics: Teaching Statements, Portfolios, and Awards, Enhancing Student Learning in Academic Integrity and Ethics with Augmented Reality Technology, Supporting Students with Special Educational Needs (SEN), Enhancing Student Engagement Using Personal Response Systems (PRS),” etc.

    CHTL also announced training schedules on Outcomes-Based Teaching and Learning (OBTL) more known to us as Outcomes-based Education—an approach we similarly are pre-occupied with these days translating OBE in our syllabi, ever since the Commission on Higher Education issued in 2014 the Handbook on Typology, Outcomes Based Education, and Institutional Sustainability. Training topics under OBTL include Introduction of OBTL and examples, Criterion Referenced Assessment, Use of Rubrics, Program Accreditation. A visit to its portal can supplement our knowledge of what we learn from the CHED 2014 Handbook.

    Likewise announced is the availability of teaching development grants (TGD) providing information on Funding Priorities, Information for Applicants, Special Funding for Staff Development Initiatives, etc. and includes an advice that “TDG proposals on enhanced pedagogies (for OBTL) rather than content development are more likely to be supported.”
    <chtl.hkbu.edu.hk/main/teaching_grants/>. Its section on the University Grants Committee (UGC) defines funding priority and selection criteria and are updated according to external developments as well as the strategic direction of the University for T/L. Academics are advised that, “In light of the recent developments in higher education, and particularly the implementation of the outcomes-based approach (OBA) and the shift to the learning-centered paradigm, the TDG scheme … now aims to encourage adoption of innovative pedagogical approaches in teaching and learning.” <http://chtl.hkbu.edu.hk/main/ teaching_ grants/>

    Similarly, the UniversitiTeknologi Malaysia Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) provides professional development to its teaching staff, resources and support needed to ensure that the highest quality of T/L takes place throughout the University. Research and dissemination of information on T/L, quality assurance and evaluation of T/L, and the use of information technology in teaching are several of its functions.

    My firm hope is that similar facilities, which are in truth quality assurance mechanisms, will in the near future be a common feature of our universities. Patterned after the foregoing centers is Liceo’s Institute for Excellence in Academic Practice and Internationalization (IEAPI).

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    Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, PhD, is one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and experts on institutional management in colleges and universities. Her studies included not only education and pedagogy but also literature, general science and history. She studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Great Britain and Japan. She headed chartered institutions, was vice-president for academics and for external relations and internationalization. She is copy editor of the Liceo journals, an internationalization consultant and professorial lecturer on-call and at the Graduate Studies of Liceo de Cagayan University (in Cagayan de Oro City). She holds a Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the central office of the Commission on Higher Education.

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