I have been thinking of the merits and demerits of a university course on academic and professional practice which I have been doing. Having worked as a seminar tutor, teaching assistant and instructor at various places, I was not sure whether I would get much out of this ‘certification’. I had the initial impression that this course was a bit fluffy and something of a formality. As it turns out, I have been able to gain quite a bit from the course.
The course has the following aims:
A broad conceptual and practical understanding of the nature of learning in higher education, and how relevant educational and disciplinary literature can inform one’s own academic and professional practice.
- Skills and competencies in the planning, delivery and evaluation of teaching and learning activities,
- Open and positive attitudes towards continuing professional development, and the ability to plan one’s own academic and professional development
The syllabus includes the following:
- Key ideas about student learning in higher education
- Approaches to large and small group teaching
- Evaluation techniques
- Undertaking classroom observation
- Giving and receiving feedback
- Assessment practices
- Inclusive education
- Reflective practice
- Professional development
- Working in the academic environment
The course consists of group meetings, self-reflection and some lectures. I have realized that I have already started utilizing some of the insights gained from those lessons in my every day teaching. Getting a deeper understanding of inclusive practices is a skill which is also useful in settings outside the lecture room. One also starts to be more reflective about one’s methods. It augurs well for further development. I have also been told that such courses are a requirement for gaining teaching fellowships.
I am glad that my university has very good teaching support facilities. Most universities have similar courses in academic practice and if researchers can take time out to at least sample such courses it will definitely help them and the students they teach.