Professional Practice in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

This blog post features on a module offered by staff from LTE aimed at supporting early career academics in developing their teaching skills. Here Catherine Lillie, module lead, provides more information about the module and how academic staff can be involved in supporting the participants.

About the Module

This module enables early career academics (mainly Postgraduate research students (PGRs) and some Postdoctoral Research Staff) to participate in and develop a critical and reflective understanding of Higher Education teaching, thereby improving their practice in learning, teaching and assessment in the context of their discipline, the University and the HE sector. This will build a range of transferable skills and attributes which is thought to enhance their employability. Ryan (2015) highlights that “providing students with structured training in the pedagogical fundamentals will not only enhance the GTAs ability to carry out their role as teachers, but it will also improve the undergraduate learning experience”.

The module has been designed largely in response to requests and feedback (including via the PGR rep and Postgraduate Research Experience Survey) for opportunities to teach as well as to receive training in teaching techniques. The module is worth 20 credits at Level 7 and forms part of the Postgraduate Training Scheme.

What can academic colleagues do to support the module?

Whilst the individuals on this module are often very new to teaching, they are learning the skills and behaviours required to be effective academic practitioners. Through engaging with opportunities to be involved in a range of teaching and learning tasks, they are able to reflect and build on their experiences (in reference to the literature, the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) and the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF)).

Individuals are required to undertake 5 hours of teaching activities as a Pass / Fail element of the module. These teaching hours provide them with the practical experience to draw from when reflecting on their approaches to teaching in their assessed portfolio.

There are many ways in which academic colleagues can support the development of this group of Early Career Academics, including offering opportunities for PGRs / PDRAs to:

  • teach (or co-teach) sessions (e.g. seminars and tutorials, or for PDRAs- lectures)
  • lead small group activities within sessions
  • supervise small projects (group or individual)
  • become involved in planning (e.g. by looking at curriculum design inc constructive alignment, or in session planning)
  • observe their teaching and be observed
  • be involved in formative or summative assessment
  • become involved in T&L related conversations e.g. informal, involvement with Boards or through reflective discussions following peer observation

Further information about the module, including the pre-requisites, assessment requirements and how to apply can be found on the LTE SharePoint site or email


Ryan, B. (2015) Postgraduate Researchers who Teach: how can national policy and the structured PhD centralise this forgotten tribe and celebrate their skills in tackling some of the current challenges in Irish higher education AISHE-J, 7, 1-13

About the author

Mike Ewen

I'm a Learning and Teaching Enhancement Adviser within LTE. I am particularly interested in exploring new technologies and enjoy nothing more than a good rummage in a settings folder.

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