Strategic Projects

The Learning and Teaching Academy facilitates institutional engagement and action across a wide spectrum
of enhancement initiatives, including the QAA Scotland Enhancement Themes and University strategic projects.

QAA Scotland Enhancement Themes

The present QAA Enhancement Theme is Resilient Learning Communities.

The new QAA Scotland Enhancement Theme focuses on Resilient Learning Communities. Over the next three years, our objective is to consider what our global learning communities will look like by 2025 and how we can prepare our staff and students to adapt and develop their approaches to learning to meet future challenges. Over the next three years, we will explore how responsive and resilient our existing community is to the diverse and developing needs of its members, identify key areas for enhancement, and consider how we will know we are moving towards a stronger, more resilient global community as we progress through the Theme and work towards our Strategy 2025 objectives.

The Theme also offers opportunities to advance the practical implementation of strategic priorities in new ways. For example, it will create special interest clusters to advance projects related to resilience, community and wellbeing across our Schools and campuses. In addition, the evaluation work the Theme will support will build a narrative of change of the Theme activity itself and, most importantly, insight into our progress towards the ambitions of Strategy 2025 and our Inspiring Learning Learning and Teaching Strategy.

Further information on the Theme can be found at the QAA Website.

A copy of the report on our activities to date is available here.

Details of Previous Theme activity can be found here.

For further information on the Enhancement Theme activities at Heriot-Watt, please contact the Theme Lead, Dr Anne Tierney (a.tierney@hw.ac.uk).

Heriot-Watt’s priorities for this Theme are the following:

  • Provide a focal point for institutional conversations around community, belonging and wellbeing.
  • Create special interest clusters to advance projects related to resilience, community and wellbeing across our Schools and campuses.
  • Develop a longitudinal evaluation to map how our global learning community is evolving over time. This will also provide insight into our progress towards Strategy 2025 and our Inspiring Learning Learning and Teaching Strategy.
  • Engage with sector activities and explore external collaboration and practice sharing opportunities.

Our plan of activities to date is available here.

As well as institutional level activity, this Theme includes sector-wide strands of activity as well as “Collaborative Clusters” to allow universities to work together to explore areas of shared interest.

Heriot-Watt is leading on two collaborative clusters related to the current theme.

Professor Martha Caddell continues the work of the successful Programme Leadership: Strengthening Resilience, Supporting Learning Communities.

Dr Anne Tierney is leading on Exploring the Potential of Micro-credentials and Digital Badging.

We are also contributing to other collaborative clusters in the sector.

Call for proposals

The current call for mini-projects under the Resilient Learning Communities theme is open until 2nd September 15th September (deadline extended). We are looking for active change projects which will make a difference to your students’ learning, or have an impact on the campus, university or local community. Browse the completed projects for inspiration.

If you want to know about the mini-project funding call, we will have two information sessions:

The call closes at 1800 BST on 2nd September, 2021 deadline extended to 15th September 2021. Results will be communicated to applicants no later than 16th September, 2021.

In the following video Dr. Anne Tierney explains the current Heriot-Watt Mini-Project Call for Proposals.

Inspiring Learning in Action

Our institutional conversations and collaborative work during the first period of LTA activity will focus on four thematic areas. Individually and collectively, these will advance our work to implement Inspiring Learning by opening space to share existing practice and explore opportunities for further innovation.

Strengthening learning communities

Supporting students to feel they belong in their University learning environment underpins many areas of pedagogic thinking, particularly in relation to retention and student success. Engaging with these themes is complex, requiring a recognition of the diversity and hybridity of student interests and identities. What connections matter, at what points and to whom?

Through this theme we focus on how staff and students meaningfully communicate, connect and work together to create authentic learning communities.

Assessment for learning: Reframing assessment and feedback conversations

Developing ‘learning to learn’ capabilities is at the heart of the vision of the Heriot-Watt graduate outlined in the Inspiring Learning Strategy.

This challenges us to consider how we approach assessment and feedback, specifically how to ensure this is an active and empowering learning conversation rather than simply the passive receipt of marks and comments. Through this theme we will explore the range of practices across Heriot-Watt, consider recent research and innovation in the eld, and champion the practical adoption of an assessment for learning approach that is consistent and coherent.

Creative Spaces, Inspiring Learning

The learning landscapes we work within are undergoing considerable change. The relationship between space, technology and pedagogy is continually being reframed. Digital and physical spaces are increasingly intertwining, opening new opportunities for teaching and student learning. Students learn in workplaces, in digital environments, in labs and maker-spaces, in ‘learning commons’, in lecture theatres and seminar rooms across global campuses.
It is important, then, that we consider how we develop and use the spaces available to staff and students in ways that inspire learning and create opportunities for meaningful interaction.
This theme provides the focus for our first Learning and Teaching Day, a University-wide event that will provide a springboard into further collaboration and institutional conversation.

Student wellbeing and the curriculum: New challenges, new practices

Student wellbeing and awareness of the mental health pressures many learners experience during their time at university is an area of increasing focus across the sector.
Addressing these concerns challenges us to think creatively about all aspects of the student experience, including how we shape and frame our curriculum.
As part of the strategic focus on the curriculum, we will open an institutional conversation about how to develop learning that has at its heart a commitment to well-being.