Suzan Koseoglu is an Academic Developer at the Teaching and Learning Innovation Centre, Goldsmiths University of London.
When I started writing my Fellowship of Higher Education Academy (FHEA) Application one of the biggest challenges was to find examples to see how the application could be structured. I remember finding only two examples online, both of which were very helpful to write this successful application. I hope my work will be useful for you in some way.
A1: Design and plan learning activities and/or programmes of study (510 words)
Authentic learning, a pedagogical approach that challenges the separation of knowing and doing in traditional education (Herrington, Reeves, & Oliver, 2010), is a core pedagogical framework that guides my teaching in Higher Education (HE). Authentic learning calls for participatory and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of subject material to help students connect theory and ideas with real life. Teachers should also recognise the context of learning and what learners bring into their learning experiences individually and also as a community of practice. Co-construction and learning actively and in dialogue with others (Bovill, CookSather, & Felten, 2011) also align well with the approach. For example, when I was teaching CI 2311W Introduction to Technology and Ethics in Society (CI 2311W hereafter), I always strived to understand my students, their needs, interests and reasons for being in the module, and structured activities with the learner and the emerging learning community in mind (K3) (V1) (V2).
CI 2311W was a completely online, 3 credit writing intensive module I taught as a primary instructor at the University of Minnesota, US (equivalent to the second year of undergraduate study in UK Higher Education) in 2016-2017. Majority of the students in this module were in their early 20s, studying full-time and working part-time, which meant they needed the flexibility of online education. The module was delivered in 13 weekly sessions. Each teaching session began with a case study that anchored the topic of the week in a real-life context. I paid particular attention to choosing case studies that were relevant to students’ lives and designed small or large group activities for students to explore the theme of the week and share their research and reflections with others. Thus, in addition to finding real life examples to draw students into the topics we studied, I also planned for technologies that facilitated learning as an inquiry-based and social process. Termly adjustments to the syllabus were also made depending on student interests and contributions. For example, I sometimes assigned the class a reading shared by a student in the forums or used a case study based on a recommendation from a student (K4) (A2) (K5).
Authentic learning is also a core framework I use in the PG CERT module I co-teach at Goldsmiths (ED76003B Module 3: The Effective Use of Technology for Teaching), as students—who are typically staff and PhD students at Goldsmiths with teaching responsibilities—are always encouraged to connect theory with their teaching practice. Study days and assessment are planned in a way to help participants use their knowledge to develop their discipline specific teaching practice and learn from their colleagues’ experiences. Together with my colleagues and our programme director, I plan the 3 study days for this programme and design face-to-face and online activities. Active student contributions are sought through small and large group discussion sessions, voluntary presentations, and through the sharing of ideas and resources in the VLE forums. Based on summative course evaluations, we would like to build more flexibility in the module through some blended learning opportunities in the next iteration of the module (K2) (K4) (K5).
A2: Teach and/or support learning (501 words)
My teaching style is to a great extent influenced by critical theorists who have questioned the power structures deeply embedded within societies and have seen the purpose of education as a means for social justice (e.g., Freire, 1972; hooks, 2003). Thus, my role is not to transmit my knowledge to students. I position myself as a facilitator, a co-learner who creates a safe and democratic space for students to work together and learn from one another. When viewed from this democratic and social angle, student support should be embedded in every aspect of teaching, from course planning to how one goes about teaching and assessment (K3).
In CI 2311W (described above), I supported students’ learning by identifying resources they could easily relate to, by facilitating weekly discussions, and through ongoing formative feedback. Because the module was completely online, I paid particular attention to using techniques that helped students feel connected to their peers and instructor and build social presence (Lowenthal & Snelson, 2017). For example, I posted weekly instructor videos introducing the topic of the week and encouraged students to post comments to others using audio or video in addition to text. I also encouraged group work and peer-to-peer feedback. These approaches helped me build a learning community, where all voices were heard and equally valued (K3) (K4) (V3).
The PG CERT Module I co-teach at Goldsmiths is an on-campus programme with some online elements. Compared to CI 2311W, this module is designed for the more independent postgraduate learner, with a requirement to submit a summative assessment and attendance to three on-campus study days. One downside of this self-driven format is that teaching and research priorities can quickly take over in participants’ lives, preventing them to fully engage with the programme. In order to help students stay engaged with the module, I supported learners this year through formative feedback (further explained below) and optional one-on-one tutorials. I also strived to create a democratic learning space, where everyone had a chance to contribute. To this end, rather than positioning myself as “the” expert, I recognized the expertise of the PGCERT participants and facilitated learning as a communal and democratic practice. For example, I designed a discussion-based session on critical digital pedagogy. I broke the class into groups of 4 or 5 and gave each group a set of prompt questions and statements from some key articles on the topic. Students then discussed their reactions to the quotes first in small groups and then in a large group. However, on reflection I realised that to help students come to a personal understanding of critical pedagogy, I needed to provide a more structured introduction to key concepts and work further on the prompt questions to help them connect theory with their practice. An approach like humanising online learning could serve as a stepping stone for many participants in this discussion, as it is an approach they could easily relate to and use as an entry point to critical digital pedagogy (K2) (K3) (V1) (V2) (V3).
A3: Assess and give feedback to learners (425 words)
I use formative assessments in my teaching as much as possible because research shows that timely and constructive feedback is a significant factor for students to be successful in formal education (Irons, 2018). In CI 2311W formative assessment was an integral part of the course; in fact, it was a vehicle for active student engagement as some activities were evaluated weekly. I was also active in the weekly module discussion forums giving informal feedback to students. One-on-one tutorials with students were also useful for better understanding students’ experiences in the module and for giving more personalised and targeted feedback.
When my colleague Dr Yacoub and I started teaching the PG CERT module in 2017, we quickly realised that there was a need to build formative assessment into the existing assessment structure. In 2018, the second time Dr. Yacoub and I were teaching the module, we introduced formative feedback in the form of optional one-to-one tutorials, small group discussions and large group presentations. All the formative feedback had the potential to feed into participants’ final projects. These activities not only helped us build stronger relationships with learners and better guide them in their development, they were also beneficial for fostering student engagement and learning in a community. Module evaluations show that learners have found discussion-based feedback sessions useful to improve their practice. Going forward, I believe we need to make more use of formative assessment as a way to build relationships with students and help them understand that assessment—both formative and summative—is also a learning activity designed in the interests of our students. Thus, I see assessment and teaching/support as intertwined concepts. Ipsative assessment (Hughes, 2014) is an approach I would like to better know and put into practice. Although we do emphasise the importance of working towards personalised goals in the module, the way we work with students in this process could be improved. For example, a discussion session on ipsative assessment at the beginning of the module could be useful for students to better establish personal goals and better understand how their work in the module can help them develop their professional practice (A1) (A2) (A4).
Critical reflection on teaching and assessment is an integral part of our annual internal review process and is crucial for quality assurance in the module. Internal marking calibration exercises with my colleagues and the programme director are particularly helpful to better support students via assessment and maintain marking standards that are reliable and consistent across different markers (K6).
A4: Develop effective learning environments and approaches to student support and guidance
Case Study: Goldsmiths Teaching and Learning: An Open Online Community Repository (527 words)
For this case study, I reflect on Goldsmiths Teaching and Learning (GS T&L), an open repository of teaching resources (https://goldsmithsteaching.com/). The site addresses the need for having a shared space at Goldsmiths to curate pedagogical resources and share them with colleagues within Goldsmith and beyond. This is an important step for our centre (TaLIC), as the knowledge HE institutions produce is increasingly becoming open for different reasons ranging from widening participation to student outreach and recruitment. I have been leading the design and development of this site because I strongly believe in the value of making HE more accessible and transparent to all as a public service (Iiyoshi & Kumar, 2008). The project is also a direct response to the growing emphasis on good teaching in UK HE (e.g., the Teaching Excellence Framework), as we encourage staff with teaching responsibilities to reflect on their teaching practice and learn from others’ experiences (V4).
The site has recently been launched at Goldsmiths with contributions from Computing, Educational Studies, History, Media, Communications and Cultural Studies, and TaLIC. As the site is open to reflections, insights, resources, and innovations from all teaching staff and students at Goldsmiths, we anticipate that the site will grow organically in time with contributions from the Goldsmiths community. The resources that are available on the site support teaching staff through examples from practice, reflections, and tips and guidance on teaching.
One example for how the site can be viewed as a pedagogical resource would be an interview I conducted with a lecturer from History on how they used blogging for assessment in one module. This was important as it signalled a shift from traditional text-based, and often “disposable” (Jhangiani, 2016; Wiley, 2013) assignments to alternative, more student-centred methods. My goal in conducting the interview was to understand how the activity was experienced by both the students and the lecturer, and the types of support they needed in this process. The GS T&L website served as a mechanism to share this valuable pedagogical practice on three levels: (i) with other colleagues and students at Goldsmiths, (ii) with other UK HE institutions, and (iii) with anyone in the world. I paid particular attention to the accessibility of the resource and used visual media to complement the text. I also created a non-linear reading experience through the additional use of hyperlinks (V1) (V2) (K2) (K4).
The reach of the GS T&L is already global. The user analytics show that so far the site has reached thousands of users across the UK, USA, China, Canada, India, and many other countries around the world. However, what the analytics isn’t showing is how and if users are using the materials on the site, which is something I intend to research in the near future. I also would like to work on quality to establish some standards that would promote high quality submissions and increase the impact of the site. Student participation is an area we could further develop, which is why I am planning to set up a second meeting with the Student Union to discuss how we can better involve students in the process (K6) (V2).
A5: CPD Log. Engage in continuing professional development in subjects/disciplines and their pedagogy, incorporating research, scholarship and the evaluation of professional practices (461 words)
In this section, I reflect on how academic conferences and events impact my work in general. As an Academic Developer, horizon scanning for pedagogical development is a major part of my job. I stay up-to-date with current trends and developments in the field through my scholarship, which includes making contributions to the academic literature and attending professional meetings and events. National conferences and daily symposiums are excellent opportunities for me to present my work and meet colleagues with similar interests. For example, Dr. Deborah Custance and I presented our ongoing work on GS T&L (described above in A4) at the Learning on/with the Open Web conference in Coventry in October 2018 (Koseoglu & Custance, 2018). We received very useful feedback during this day-long event from colleagues in other UK institutions, which directly informed the design of the site and our approach (K1) (K2) (K3).
Another example would be a recent conference talk I gave (Koseoglu, 2019) at the Inaugural Symposium for the Centre of Excellence for Teaching and Learning (CoETaL) at the University of Guyana (Guyana). This talk on open educational resources was received very positively. In addition to an in-depth exploration of some pressing issues in open education, I mentioned some of the work on the GS T&L website as examples for how to avoid disposable assignments in HE. The event was a great opportunity for a mutual sharing of expertise on an international level. It was interesting for me to meet colleagues from South America and learn about what they are doing in a teaching centre with a role very similar to ours, and they learned about some of our initiatives such as GS T&L. The letter of appreciation I received from the director of CoETaL stated: “We believe that the knowledge disseminated will help immensely in the development and growth of the Centre of Excellence as well as the participants of the Symposium. It was an honour for CoETaL to have you as one of our resource speakers” (K1).
Attending conferences and professional meetings help me keep up-to-date with the latest developments and trends in the field and incorporate them into my work as an Academic Developer. This is particularly useful for teaching the PG CERT programme, especially in helping students achieve two of the learning outcomes: (1) explore the national and international context of Higher Education; (2) learn more about trends, research and theories of pedagogy. They are also useful in gaining a holistic and informed understanding of the challenges UK Higher Education experience today and make informed contributions to institution-wide projects such as GS T&L or the Learning and Teaching Chairs Forum, which is convened to build a shared understanding of some issues in teaching and engage in strategic planning (V4).
Bovill, C., Cook-Sather, A., & Felten, P. (2011). Students as co‐creators of teaching approaches, course design, and curricula: Implications for academic developers. International Journal for Academic Development, 16(2), 133-145.
Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder.
Herrington, J., Reeves, T. C., & Oliver, R. (2010). A Guide to Authentic e-Learning. Routledge, New York.
hooks, b. (2003). Teaching community: A pedagogy of hope. New York: Routledge.
Hughes, G. (2014). Ipsative assessment: Motivation through marking progress. London UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Iiyoshi, T., & Vijay Kumar, M.S. (2008). Opening Up education: The collective advancement of education through open technology, open content, and open knowledge. Cambridge, Mass: MIT.
Irons, A. (2008) Enhancing learning through formative assessment and feedback. Routledge, Abingdon, UK.
Jhangiani, R. (2016, December 7). Ditching the “Disposable assignment” in favor of open pedagogy. https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/g4kfx
Koseoglu, S. (Feb, 2019). Notes on research and practice on open educational resources: Local context, local practice. Invited talk at The Centre of Excellence for Teaching and Learning (CoETaL) Inaugural Symposium, University of Guyana, Guyana.
Koseoglu, S., & Custance, D. (2018). Goldsmiths Teaching & Learning: A fluid community repository. Presentation at the Learning on/with the Open Web Conference, Coventry University, UK. Available at https://conf.owlteh.org/contributions/published/goldsmiths-teaching-learning-a-fluid-and-continually-evolving-community-repository/
Lowenthal, P. R., & Snelson, C. (2017). In search of a better understanding of social presence: an investigation into how researchers define social presence. Distance Education, 38(2), 141-159.
Wiley, D. (2013, October 21). What is open pedagogy? [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/2975