Project introduction and background information
Teaching quality is key for a high standard of educational quality and success rates. To achieve the ambitious goals of student-driven engineering education, teachers need to be supported in their professional development. Creating opportunities for teachers to collaboratively reflect on, further develop and share knowledge and practice-based research to promote educational innovation is important. The Senior University Teaching Qualification (SUTQ) is focused on a scholarly approach of teaching and learning (SoTL), in which teachers are regarded as researcher and designer of their own educational practice, to collaboratively innovate and improve teaching.
Objective and expected outcomes
At this University the career framework for university teaching  is used, referring to four levels (see Figure 1). Based on this career framework for teaching, teachers develop their competencies via SUTQ at the level of the ‘skilled and collegial teacher’ (2nd level), ready to contribute to the pedagogical knowledge in their own field of teaching (3rd level, of the ‘scholarly teacher’). The target group for participation in SUTQ are (experienced) teachers that have both obtained their basic University Teaching Qualification (UTQ), and are considered forerunners in their department in terms of teaching.
Participants are expected to
- be committed to and focused on improving education focused on student learning
- be critical and proactive concerning education and their own role
- be informed of and have an open mind for state of the art developments in the field of education
- give direction to and are in control of their professionalization
- be committed to the activities and collaborate with fellow participants during the SUTQ trajectory
Results and learnings
The outcomes in the pilot year showed that teachers worked on a large variety of themes. The first evaluation of this pilot program showed three main elements of improvement: priority and facilitation in participants’ departments (and, in relation, feasibility); opportunities to interact more with peers; complexity of the R&D seminars, where the focus was on research at the cost of designing for innovating teaching  and there was too little time to cover all relevant aspects sufficiently.
The outcomes  of the second cohort again show a variety of themes. Several participants noted how they became more aware of explicit teaching assumptions and strategies as an outcome of SUTQ. Although finding time to spend on SUTQ was still noted as a challenge by several participants, interestingly most participants mentioned the value and appreciation of being able to discuss and further develop their teaching with input both from students and colleagues (at their department) within the SUTQ framework,
Although finding time to spend on SUTQ was still noted as a challenge by several participants, interestingly most participants mentioned the value and appreciation of being able to discuss and further develop their teaching with input both from students and colleagues (at their department) within the SUTQ framework.
Main outcomes of the evaluation where focused on the research approach, differences in prior knowledge, feasibility, and community building. Regarding the research approach, some of the participants had not expected a focus on educational research and had expected the content to be more about pedagogical strategies and/or accreditation issues. Prior knowledge of the participants (and their perception thereof) in terms of social science research background was very different.
We have made three main adaptations to the program for the third cohort, in line with (evaluation) outcomes in the second cohort:
1) Clearer design and communication of the research approach to (potential) participants already before the start of the program, adopting the research-informed teaching approach (RITP) , with more attention for a diversity in prior knowledge in terms of social science research knowledge and skills.
2) Extended run time (November 2019-April 2021) with more flexibility in start and end of the programme, to allow for data collection in the module and quartile of participants’ choice.
3) Also connected to 1), Focus on particular themes to be able to form ‘research learning communities’ (RLCs) of participants for peer interaction and feedback purposes, aiming also to develop the community as a whole. These themes were: Student-Driven Learning, and Assessment for Learning, and still an open theme where we anticipated to be able to connect participants in RLCs based on commonalities.
Intermediate evaluation results of this third cohort, based on their project plan worksheets (their outcomes so far and the questions about what they have learnt and what suggestions for program improvement they have) and an evaluation meeting with coaches and one of the seminar lecturers, show that clarity and feedback in most of the meetings (kick- off and seminars) are mentioned as strong points by most of the participants
This research has also been presented at the 48th SEFI Annual Conference on Engineering Education, SEFI 2020, Online, Enschede, Netherlands (20 Sep 2020 - 24 Sep 2020)
More could be found in the paper (at the downloads on the right): “The Senior University Teaching Qualification: Engaging in research, design and building community in engineering education.” by Cindy Poortman, Chris Rouwenhorst, Martine ten Voorde – Ter Braack and Jan van der Veen