In this blog, Dr Anne Tierney provides an overview of Heriot-Watt University’s take on the QAA Scotland Enhancement Themes and introduces twelve new mini-projects.
The current Enhancement Theme, Resilient Learning Communities, is now in its second year. When aligned with Strategy 2025: Shaping Tomorrow Together, we can make links between our strategic objectives of Inspiring Learning, Belonging and Collaboration and the Theme, with our institutional take: “Strengthening our Global Learning Community: Resilience in Action”. Sometimes, institutional strategy can feel remote from our day to day practice, and mini-projects are an opportunity to empower teachers, those who support learning, and students to contribute to the realisation of strategy in a way that impacts in a practical way, while contributing to our institutional landscapes of practice (Wenger-Trayner et al., 2015).
Mini-projects are a valuable and vital part of QAA Scotland Enhancement Theme work. At Heriot-Watt, we have encouraged individuals and teams to propose projects which make a difference to student learning experience, thinking about changes that can be made that enrich learning, forge new links between campuses, the University, and the local community. Last year, we funded fourteen projects, and in October 2021, we started our second round of projects. The response to the call for proposals was overwhelming, and testament to the enthusiasm of staff and students in the HWU community. One of the strengths of the mini-projects is that anyone can apply for them, so we have had proposals from students, professional services and academic staff. Part of the obligation of a successful proposal is dissemination (Felten, 2013; Glassick et al., 1997), and all project holders from last year presented at the Learning & Teaching Symposium in June 2021, or at Sharing Practice sessions over the summer. We also had projects presented at international conferences, which has enhanced the external reputation of HWU in teaching and learning innovation.
This year we have funded twelve projects:
We congratulate the successful project proposers and look forward to seeing the impact of their projects. However, mini-projects are not just about successful funding. We had thirty-three proposals this year, and were unable to fund them all. The ideas that were proposed are still good ones, and I would encourage colleagues to find ways to make the projects happen. This may be by pooling resources with another colleague, or making connections with someone who has a similar interest. There are also other ways of getting involved with the Enhancement Themes work. We’ll be holding information sessions in the near future, and invite you all to come and hear more about how to contribute to this work.
Felten, P. (2013). Principles of Good Practice in SoTL. Teaching Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal, 1(1). http://tlijournal.com/tli/index.php/TLI/article/view/39
Glassick, C. E., Huber, M. T., & Maeroff, G. I. (1997). Scholarship assessed: Evaluation of the professoriate. Jossey-Bass.
Wenger-Trayner, E., Fenton-O’Creevy, M., Hutchinson, S., Kubiak, C., & Wenger-Trayner, B. (Eds.). (2015). Learning in Landscapes of Practice: Boundaries, Identity, and knowledgeability in Practice-Based Learning. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.