A certificate in teaching does not mean you are an effective teacher

Having basically been forced to add “knowledge exchange” activities to my staff review and development plan for the forthcoming year because, apparently, it is part of the university’s “mission statement”, I know exactly what is coming next.

“The university wants to follow the Uni of Huddersfield’s example and have 100% of its academic staff hold an HEA teaching qualification……”

I can vaguely understand people who don’t know any better thinking that this bit of paper makes you a “better” teacher, and that new staff to teaching may get some benefit from it, but seriously!

When exactly am I suppose to find the time for this?

Is not 10 years of teaching experience enough? I’ll admit I wasn’t great in the beginning but I got better year on year. But you could say that for any profession. A PGCE does not make a good high school teacher….ask any high school student.

The rise of the HEA teaching qualification is probably proportional to the decline in mentors at universities. In the good old days, new staff would be paired with a seasoned academic who would give you advice on everything and anything, read your papers and grant applications and critique them, give you career advice, give you tips on admin, and sit in on your lectures and give you advice.

You don’t need to spend a year gaining a certificate that doesn’t actually train you in how to teach. You’ll get that from doing it and students have to be realistic that teaching is a skill that is acquired through doing it. I’ve noticed that students own dire presentation skills and being confronted by them never seem to lead to that dawn of realisation that actually teaching ain’t so easy. The HEA certificate just replaces the old mentoring system. And it gives an excuse for universities to ditch peer review of teaching because….well, there is no need….100% of our staff have a certificate that proves they are effective teachers.



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