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 Evidence for Enhancement: Improving the Student Experience.
This is a three-year Theme running from October 2017 to the end of the 2019/20 academic year.
Further information on the Theme can be found at the QAA Website.
Heriot-Watt’s priorities for this Theme focus on two distinct areas related to using evidence for enhancement:
- How we can as an institution improve our use of student survey data
- Exploration of ways to understand and improve our student retention
A copy of our Institutional plan is available here.
A copy of the report on our 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 has been actively involved in the work of the Enhancing Programme Leadership collaborative cluster.
In addition Heriot-Watt is well represented in the strategic sector work on this Theme. Professor Martha Caddell is Deputy Chair of this Theme. For 2019-20, Alex Hedlund has been selected as the sector’s Student Representative on the Theme Leadership Team.
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, specically how to ensure this is an active, 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.