‘Time to review and re-energise’

Written by Kelvin Tapley

It was with great pleasure that I recently accepted the offer to become the new Director of Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence on an interim basis.

I believe that from LITE’s successful beginnings, it is now timely to review and re-energise the work and impact of the Institute.

I bring a wealth of student education leadership and insight into LITE. As well as my 11 years of experience as Pro Dean for Student Education in the Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences, I was involved in the original set up, I’m on the institute’s board and I have direct experience from my short time as a LITE Fellow.

Community

In this reflection I would like to consider the internal vs external dimensions of LITE.

First and foremost I believe LITE is for Leeds – the fantastic students we have at the University of Leeds and the excellent student education staff – of all categories and levels.

The LITE Community is growing.

Our second cohort of Excellence & Innovation Fellows and also Teaching Enhancement Project Leaders (TEPLs) are progressing their projects.

I am actively working on ‘refining and aligning’ to the University’s Strategic Priorities in Student Education for the next cohorts, while learning from the experiences of the current LITE Community.

NEW Director: Dr Kelvin Tapley.

Co-creation

A key feature of these posts is the secondment nature of the roles, funded centrally, along with additional project funds – giving staff dedicated time, funds and facilities to work on their project.

It is pleasing to see a mix of student interns and students as partners – even co-creating the development of some projects, but there does seem to be even greater potential to partner with our students.

We need to fully evaluate our own projects and then adopt and/or adapt for future projects.

Project reports and recommendations are coming through from the research undertaken, as can be seen elsewhere on the LITE website, and we need to be smarter in the way that we utilise and maximise the impact of the knowledge that we have created, initially for the benefit of our own students.

We will also be piloting ways to get even greater student engagement with LITE in the coming months.

Wider engagement

The Leeds LITE Community is much bigger than that of the Fellows and TEPLs, we have our Affiliate centres of scholarship and pedagogy, distributed across the University, our National Teaching Fellows (NTFs) and our University Student Education Fellows (USEFs), to name just a few.

In the coming months LITE will be looking to facilitate greater interactions and engagements across the Community, with a forthcoming Leeds ‘Festival of Teaching’ being one exciting way for us to do this, with LITE hosting a number of other events to be announced soon.

Externally, I think it’s fair to say, the University of Leeds has been getting noticed for the excellence of the Student Education and the Student Experience that it provides for its students.

Recent examples and indicators include our TEF Gold award, the Times and Sunday Times University of the Year 2017 award, and improvement in ‘league tables’ – including a top three position in the recent Times Higher Education’s student experience survey.

External partners

We continue to present our scholarship activities at conferences, receiving high level visits from a number of international universities, with more planned over the next few months and are starting to collaborate internationally on a number of projects.

The University of Leeds has a significant number of staff already engaged in the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning and Pedagogy, plus an increasing pool of staff eager to progress down this route.

Many are linked to various networks and are keen to collaborate with appropriate international colleagues who have shared or complimentary interests.

If you are external to the University of Leeds please do take the opportunity, if you have not already, to look at the LITE projects and the work of our Affiliates, plus coming soon some “special interest groups” in student education.

The future

So, as I take a moment to look outside at a bright, active and enthusiastic campus, with a real buzz about the place – centrally located, next to the students’ union, although from experience that seems to hold true in all the green spaces right across campus, it’s probably not surprising that my thoughts again turn to how best to positively impact the lives of thousands of students.

To this end I will be actively listening to the fantastic staff and students at the University of Leeds as well as engaging with the work of Student Education colleagues internationally, to help with this endeavour.

Dr Kelvin N Tapley, PFHEA