4.5 Learning and Teaching Review
4.4.1 Given the primary responsibility of faculties for quality of provision and the maintenance of academic standards, the rolling programme of learning and teaching review is a major element of the University’s quality strategy.
4.4.2 Learning and teaching reviews have been conducted on a 4 to 6 year cycle since 1990/91.
4.4.3 Conducted under the aegis of the Education and Student Experience Committee, the learning and teaching review provides a mechanism for a review of a faculty’s learning and teaching operations.
4.4.4 The aim of the learning and teaching review is:
- to assess the performance of the Faculty/Division against the University’s Learning and Teaching Quality Enhancement Strategy.;
- to provide assurance about the quality of educational provision and the standards of academic awards and to consider the continuing appropriateness of the Faculty’s /Division’s programme specifications with particular attention to curriculum content and learning outcomes;
- to consider and advise on the plans for the future development of the Faculty’s teaching programme;
- to identify and disseminate good practice.
4.4.5 It is intended that the review process should be positive and supportive and should involve the Faculty/Division as a whole in portraying an accurate and comprehensive picture of its learning and teaching activities. Faculties/ divisions are required to produce a self-evaluation document, in accordance with the review guidelines. Most of the supporting documentation should be readily available either in hard copy or in electronic form.
4.4.6 The learning and teaching reviews are undertaken by a panel comprised of:
- One external adviser;
- Deputy Principal (Education and Students);
- One dean of faculty or associate dean of learning and teaching from another faculty (preferably not from a cognate discipline);
- A student representative (normally a Students’ Union sabbatical officer).
In addition a representative from the Academic Quality and Governance team will be in attendance throughout to act as review secretary.
4.4.7 The external adviser is appointed by the Academic Registrar, who selects one from a list of possible advisers submitted following consultation with the Dean of Faculty and Head of Division. Normally, the external adviser will be a senior academic in the subject area and not have had a recent link with the School (for example as an ex-member of staff or an external examiner).
4.4.8 The Faculty/Division’s self-evaluation document, submitted in advance of the review is of fundamental importance to the review process, in setting the context and identifying issues for discussion. All members of the Faculty/Division are included in the review and are expected to engage in prior discussions on the preparation of materials as a collegial activity. Faculties/Divisions are required to reflect on learning and teaching, and to consider the effectiveness and continuing validity of taught and research student programmes and associated curricula, and the extent to which academic standards are being maintained. Finally, they are required to consider computing support, library support, and any other aspects of the wider University learning and teaching infrastructure that impact upon provision.
4.4.9 All of the above areas of activity are inter-related and should not be considered in isolation. The University’s approach to the review ensures that members of the Faculty/Division come together to reflect on, and justify what they are trying to achieve in all aspects of their work, and how these different areas of activity impact upon one another.
4.4.10 External points of reference include the QAA UK Quality Code for Higher Education, QAA Subject Benchmark Statements, and other publications by professional, accrediting or funding bodies as appropriate.
4.4.11 The review itself will be completed within one day. A programme is agreed in advance with the Dean of Faculty/Division, which comprises a session with the Dean of Faculty/Division together with other sessions attended by relevant staff, or in the case of larger divisions, relevant staff representatives. The panel also sees representative groups of undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research students.
4.4.12 The external adviser has a central role on the panel, both in terms of leading discussions on the day, and in contributing to the report. This external perspective is deeply valued by the University, and by divisions undergoing review. The wider panel membership, provides a direct link with the senior management, and affords them an opportunity to see at first hand how the work of the Faculty and Division engages with the University’s general direction and mission.
4.4.13 Following the event, the external advisor is asked to submit notes, to the review secretary, on the review’s outcomes and processes. A draft report, based on discussions during the review and the notes from the external adviser, is prepared by the review secretary. A draft of the report is sent to the Dean of Faculty/Division for factual correction. If necessary, a note of any differences of view which cannot be resolved is attached to the final report. Once the report is finalised the Faculty/Division is asked to produce a response. The final version of the report and the faculty/Division response are submitted for formal approval to the Education and Student Experience Committee. The review panel is able to make recommendations to a variety of groups within the University. These may relate to operational, procedural or curricular matters within the Faculty/Division, or may be more concerned with policy and directed at the Education and Student Experience Committee other appropriate committees. The report also identifies good practice for wider dissemination in the University. Comments from the Education and Student Experience Committee are sent to the Faculty/Division and any follow-up action is monitored by the Education and Student Experience Committee.
4.4.14 The full Guidelines for Learning and Teaching Reviews are available on request from Academic Quality and Governance and may also be accessed on the University web-site.