illuminatio 2009 - Oxford Learning Institute - University of Oxford

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					Illuminatio June 2009 f:Illuminatio Oct 08                   19/8/09   15:35    Page 1

           SUMMER 2009

           From the Oxford Learning Institute

           Contents                                                    Creating and developing partnerships:
           Lynn McAlpine & Stephen Goss                       1        integrating disciplinary and
           “Beyond the Ivory Tower”: the postgraduate
                                                                       pedagogical expertise
           Eleanor Parkin                                     2        Professor Lynn McAlpine, Director, Centre for
           DLT and me                                                  Excellence in Preparing for Academic Practice; &
           Daniel Bulte                                       3
                                                                       Dr Stephen Goss, Director, Oxford Learning Institute
           Views of a new academic
           Will Norman                                        4

           CETL INITIATIVES                                            The Centres for Excellence in Teaching and
           Springboard – introduction                         5

           Experiencing Springboard
                                                                       Learning (CETL) programme was first launched
           Olivia Roche                                       5
           Veronika Fikfak                                    6        by the Higher Education Funding Council for
           Career Accelerator Academic Mentoring (CAAM)                England (HEFCE) in 2003.
           John Kirwan                                        6

           Experiencing the CAAM programme                             The initiative was intended loosely
           Philip Lockley                                     7        “to reward excellent teaching practice      “What’s wonderful about
           Disciplinary Academic Practice Events                       and to invest in that practice further
           Sarah Steele                                       7        so that the funding delivers               this programme is that has
                                                                       substantial benefits to institutions,
           Fixed-term employment in research – Small steps                                                          brought people together
           and open questions                                          teachers and students”, but the
           Alis Oancea                                        8        practical explication of these broad          from different subjects,
           DIVISIONAL PERSPECTIVES                                     objectives was left to the institutions
           Preparing for Academic Practice in the Humanities           bidding for CETL funding. 74 Centres             very productively”
           Ros Ballaster & Debbie McVitty                    9         were eventually approved in January
           Dispatches from the Social Sciences                         2005, with the associated
           David Mills                                       10        expenditure representing the Council’s largest ever single funding initiative
           CETL, MPLS and preparation for Academic                     relating to teaching and learning.
           Practice in the Sciences
           Barbara Gabrys                                    11        The University of Oxford’s successful CETL bid for a “Centre for Excellence in
           Divisional Co-ordination: Medical Sciences                  Preparing for Academic Practice” was coordinated by the Learning Institute.
           Catarina Gadelha                                  12        The Centre was designed to represent a creative and original approach to the
           EXTERNAL PERSPECTIVES                                       development of doctoral students and new research staff who wish to follow
           A view from the Higher Education Academy                    careers in academia – individuals who can be termed ‘early career academics’.
           Helen Thomas                                      13
                                                                       The bid was always intended to be an initiative for change across the University,
           Vitae: preparing researchers for Academic Practice          rather than being driven by individual concerns or local issues. From the beginning,
           Tristram Hooley                                    14       the Divisions and the Institute were conceived as partners in the CETL process,
           CONCLUDING THOUGHTS                                         with specific individuals in the Divisions nominated to provide leadership in their
           The future of the CETL programme at Oxford                  Divisions, and the Institute making a commitment to provide pedagogical and
           Tim Softley                                       15
                                                                       evaluation expertise. The bid had clear-cut goals, which included the gradual
           USEFUL RESOURCES                                  16        implementation of teaching development programmes within the Divisions
                                                                       (sometimes at the level of the department or faculty) for all early career academics.

                                                                       The bid was conceived so that each Division received annual funding to carry
                                                                       out their development plans. Additionally, the bid included capital funding for
                                                                       each Division to construct pedagogical space that was pertinent to their
                                                                       teaching needs.

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               A key feature of the plan was the creation of cross-Divisional              practice’ was seen as central. This meant that activities related to
               structures which have facilitated communication and information             Roberts’ funding and general career development were deemed
               exchange, so that useful practices developed in one Division                as equally important and could be integrated into local offerings.
               or department could be modified and implemented in others.                  This issue of Illuminatio thus contains the voices of early career
               A striking feature of the CETL is that all those involved are               academics who have participated in a range of programmes, as
               personally motivated by a belief that this work is important for            well as of the CETL coordinators who have provided Divisional
               the development of early career academics, the future of the                leadership, and of external organisations who contribute to the
               disciplines, and their continued contribution to knowledge and              academic practice “agenda”.
               society. Such communication across Divisional and disciplinary
               lines was valued greatly: as one CETL Divisional co-ordinator said,         Now, at the beginning of its last year of funding, the Centre’s original
               “one of the things that’s been absolutely wonderful about this              goals have largely been achieved, and nearly a thousand people are
               programme is that it’s brought people together from different               participating each year in CETL-derived programmes. The focus of
               subjects, very productively – we’re sitting round a table now,              attention now shifts to the embedding and sustaining of what is
               whereas before we’d never have had the chance to work together              seen by many as a record of substantial achievement. There is a
               in this way.” Thus, perhaps it is not surprising that forums for the        strong sense that this initiative has provided a sound foundation
               exchange of ideas on provision for early career academics are               on which the University may move forward on a range of issues
               imagined as continuing once the CETL funding ends in 2010.                  that can better support the development of early career academics
                                                                                           – such as, for example, the development of doctoral training
               While the original focus and goals of the CETL highlighted the              schools. The Learning Institute hopes to continue to work in
               development of teaching provision, this attention shifted quickly           partnership with the Divisions and other parts of the University in
               to a broader perspective in which an inclusive view of ‘academic            support of the further enhancement of academic practice at Oxford.

               Developing Learning and Teaching
               “Beyond the Ivory Tower”: the postgraduate perspective on
               “Developing Learning and Teaching”
               Eleanor Parkin, DPhil candidate in Italian, Christ Church

               Before starting the Developing Learning and Teaching (DLT) scheme, as a doctoral
               student in Italian literature, pedagogical theory and indeed the practicalities of how
               to be a successful tutor in a Humanities context were somewhat hazy ideas in my
               mind. These were concepts based on hearsay, on my own positive undergraduate
               experiences, and on scattered stories from my fellow postgraduates who were already
               engaged in teaching.

               The DLT programme, by building on what I had already learnt in              reading and dissecting the theoretical texts together (and by adding
               sessions on Preparation for Learning and Teaching the previous year,        our own anecdotal and often very useful and amusing stories from
               provided me with a structured way of thinking critically about my           personal experience), we were able to think about what we do
               own teaching practices. I had (perhaps somewhat ironically!) already        instinctively, what we should or can do in the teaching context, and
               undertaken some undergraduate teaching prior to starting the                how this makes us better tutors. These are reflections which will in
               programme, but the first-year Italian poetry students I taught during       turn (hopefully!) make us more employable when some of us have
               the DLT scheme certainly had a tutor who was more student-                  to make the rather frightening leap from postgraduate tutor to
               centred and theoretically aware.                                            gainfully employed ‘real’ tutor.

               The scheme typically combines critical reflection; reading of               The literature we read in the reading groups, occasionally dry
               pedagogical texts; observation and experience of teaching; and the          and less relevant for those teaching in a humanities context,
               submission of a written portfolio. One of the great benefits of DLT         nevertheless gave me some idea of the current issues in teaching
               lies, I believe, in the opportunity to engage in such reflection - on       and, more importantly, how I could implement some of them,
               planning, student feedback, and teaching and learning practices in          something which will certainly be useful when I am next asked to
               a group situation - through participation in reading groups. By             define my ‘teaching philosophy’ on an application form. Writing the

Illuminatio June 2009 f:Illuminatio Oct 08                 19/8/09      15:35     Page 3

      portfolio (on teaching poetry successfully in the        The DLT programme ...                  outside the ‘Oxford bubble’. Some of us may
      ‘Small Group Context’) gave me the chance to                                                    now hold the illustrious title of ‘Associate of the
      explore an area which was both of real interest            provided me with a                   Higher Education Academy’, but the promise of
      to me and relevant to my teaching context.                                                      a position in an ivory tower at the end of our
      Whilst some issues could not be resolved within
                                                            structured way of thinking                thesis is far from certain.
      an hour’s discussion with peers or a mentor (for        critically about my own                 As 21st-century postgraduates, we should enter
      example; how do postgraduate tutors gain real                                                   the next phase of our careers as prepared as
      authority as teachers?), this scheme has certainly         teaching practices.                  possible for what lies ahead; I believe that DLT
      further prepared me for one day teaching                                                        can form an integral part of that preparation.

      DLT and me
      Daniel Bulte, postdoctoral researcher & DLT participant (Medical Sciences)

      The tutorial system at Oxford can, to new arrivals, seem like an impenetrable
      maze of insider knowledge and incomprehensible jargon. However, as an
      undergraduate student, you are surrounded by others in the same boat, and
      there are people everywhere at your college who can explain to you all that
      you need to know.

      In contrast, there is the fate of the new                  I had found others who              wishing to pack their CV with knowledge and
      postgraduate student or postdoctoral                                                           new skills, and even to obtain a nationally
      researcher who wants to get some teaching                  actually liked teaching,            recognised qualification.
      experience, or at least wants to make a little
                                                                 wanted to improve and
      money in these harsh times. You would love to                                                  It was not a magic cure-all, and finding a
      ask where to start - but you don’t even know              augment their skills, and            paying teaching position at Oxford is still a
      whom to ask that question. Your supervisor or                                                  closely fought battle between the hoards of
      principal investigator may never have been a            knew the answers to many hungry graduates and postdocs, but at the very
      student at Oxford, so they don’t know the                                                      least these are a good source of people to ask
                                                                      of my questions.
      answers; and many postdocs do not have                                                         the big question: where can I find the answers?
      college affiliations. It can be very frustrating to                                            In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I went back for
      having skills and knowledge and a wish to pass                                                 the DLT, compiled a teaching portfolio, became
      that on, while earning a few pounds doing it, and to feel                 a member of the Higher Education Academy, and returned to help
      blocked at every turn.                                                    support the preliminary course (Preparing for Teaching and
                                                                                Learning at Oxford). However, even if you only take some of the
      This was me three years ago. At my previous universities I had            courses on offer, you will benefit from so doing.
      been inundated with requests or demands to teach, and yet here
      I felt lost in the wilderness. Then I discovered the Learning Institute’s Everyone in academia has had some experience with a teacher or
      programme for supporting people like me at Oxford. It was, at that        tutor who doesn’t care, doesn’t know the material or simply hasn’t
      time, relatively new, but at once I realised I had found others who       got a clue. The best thing about the Teaching and Learning courses
      actually liked teaching, who wanted to improve and augment                is that they represent the first step towards ensuring that no one
      their own skills, and who knew the answers to many of my                  ever says that about you. If you happen to become a better teacher
      questions. As well as this they offered not just one day of               along the way, or get that tutorial position you really wanted, or
      PowerPoint and a hearty handshake, but an ongoing                         simply find a helpful new source of cash, don’t be surprised; that’s
      comprehensive array of services for early career academics                really why the programmes are there.

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               Developing Learning and Teaching: views of a new academic
               Will Norman, Oxford DPhil and former DLT participant, now Lecturer in North
               American Literature at the University of Kent

               The transition from DPhil student to first academic job is commonly, and rightly,
               perceived as a challenging one. In my field, Literary Studies, the majority of academic
               careers are launched through positions which require the candidate to do at least
               some undergraduate teaching. Many of the jobs advertised are fixed-term teaching
               fellowships, which make little or no provision for research activity. Competition for
               all these posts is high, meaning that candidates need to take the preparation of
               their CVs very seriously. They may be required to take on heavy teaching workloads,
               and to teach outside their areas of research expertise. Institutions will therefore
               be looking for evidence of a professional approach to academic teaching which
               demonstrates that the candidate not only has experience in the classroom and
               lecture theatre, but has thought carefully about the particular demands of
               modern Higher Education.

               My own experience, of completing the DLT at                50% of my requirements               time for research. The work I did on my
               the Learning Institute at Oxford University, was                                                DLT portfolio helped me to focus on
               a positive one, and has been useful in several
                                                                        were fulfilled before I even           teaching with a greater degree of clarity
               ways. My search for a first academic job was             arrived at the post, leaving           on aims and outcomes. This, in turn, has
               ultimately successful, and I am now a full-time                                                 meant both that my seminars are more
               lecturer at the University of Kent. It is difficult to   me more time to spend on               effective, and that I approach preparation
               know what part the DLT played in the process of                                                 with more confidence and efficiency.
               my getting the job, but my interviewers certainly
                                                                       the other aspects of my job. Tutorial teaching has little currency outside
               wanted reassurance that I was a capable and                                                     of Oxbridge, and so it was the elements
               dedicated teacher as well as a researcher.                                                      of the DLT course which concentrated
               Like many other institutions, my university requires permanent staff      on small group teaching which were most beneficial to me.
               to complete a PGCHE (Postgraduate Certificate of Higher Education)        Experience of delivering lectures has been important to
               as a condition of probation. I have been able to transfer credits from    me, in getting the job and in providing a foundation for my
               the DLT onto the PGCHE course at Kent, with the result that 50% of         current teaching responsibilities. The DLT gave the opportunity
               my requirements were fulfilled before I even arrived at the post,         to deliver a short lecture, and to receive feedback on it from
               leaving me more time to spend on the other aspects of my new job.         an experienced academic. That, too, has been useful,
                                                                                         and I would urge graduate students to obtain as much
               This is, of course, the second difficulty involved in the transition      experience of lecturing as they can. This is a skill in genuine
               from graduate student to lecturer – the day-to-day business of            demand, and opportunities for students to practice it
               keeping on top of your teaching workload, as well as making               are limited.

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      CETL Initiative:
      Introduction: Judith Secker & Hannah Boschen, Oxford Learning Institute

      Springboard is an award winning personal and professional development programme,
      designed and developed by women for women. It has been created specifically to
      enable women to achieve their full potential both at work and in their personal lives
      and to gain greater influence. Women are less well represented than men in more
      senior roles at all levels in the University; providing Springboard programmes for
      women is one of the means by which we aim to address this concern.

      Through four workshops spread over three months and a personal                staff have all benefited from the programme. Some have been
      workbook, Springboard enables women to value their skills and                 promoted; others have resolved difficulties at home; many have
      build on their strengths while conquering their weaknesses.                   taken the first steps towards realising their full potential. With the
      The programme develops the self-confidence and assertiveness                  establishment of the CETL, it became possible to develop a skills-
      necessary to allow women to make things happen in their lives.                oriented version of the programme for postgraduate students,
      Springboard was introduced for University of Oxford staff in 2001             and the accounts that follow are from two of the women who
      and academics, researchers, administrators, technicians and clerical          participated in a pilot course for students, held in 2007.

      Springboard participant, Olivia Roche, DPhil graduate
      I had very high expectations of the Springboard                                                 me came during our discussion on image.
      course when I entered the room on the first              It was one of the first days - I realised for the first time why I so often got a
      day in September 2007. A taster session a few                                                   negative response from people “for no reason”,
      months before had led me to believe that this               during my four years at             as I thought. I was projecting a negative image
      was exactly what I needed to get myself and my                                                  of myself. I was being pessimistic and appeared
      life back together. And I wasn’t disappointed.
                                                                    Oxford – when I felt              angry and bitter. I worked hard at changing
      Very quickly in the first morning I found myself            understood, not alone,              that – being positive, optimistic, happier and
      working with a group of like-minded, intelligent                                                more open to people around me. I found an
      women, who had been through or were going                         and ‘normal’!                 almost instant positive response from my
      through very similar experiences. We were very                                                  work colleagues and friends. It was liberating
      ably and light-heartedly led by Judith and Tess                                                 and empowering. I felt I could control the
      through group exercises to which we brought                                                     attitude and behaviour of others towards
      our own experiences and learned from others. It                                                 me by controlling my attitude and behaviour
      was one of the first days – during my four years at Oxford - when                                towards them.
      I felt understood, not alone and “normal”! Our homework involved
      working through the first four chapters of the Springboard workbook.      A year on from Springboard, I am a much happier, stronger woman.
      It was an exploration of ourselves, our motivations, our ambitions;       I finished my DPhil and got a job in scientific publishing, which I really
      it challenged us to look at our behaviour and beliefs from a different    enjoy. I moved to a new city and am starting a new life for myself.
      angle and it brought insight and for me a sense of excitement.            I had the courage to end a long-term relationship that was not helping
      This is what I had been looking for. I wished the programme had           my confidence or happiness. The skills I learnt during Springboard,
      been available in the first or second year of my DPhil rather than the    the network of friends I built up and the personal insight I gained
      fourth because I could have made even more use of the skills and          empowered me to do all this. I learned from others in my group, I built
      ideas it gave me, but it still came in good time to help me through.      up confidence in myself after a difficult experience during my DPhil in
                                                                                Oxford and most importantly I learned the need for “me” time and
      The next three sessions built on this foundation, pushed us further       rewarding myself. No more guilt and self-criticism – I learned to like
      from our comfort zones, challenged us even more and enabled us to         myself and by continuing to use my Springboard workbook and
      learn and understand more about ourselves. A real breakthrough for        techniques, someday soon I may be able to say that I love myself.

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               Springboard participant, Veronika Fikfak, DPhil graduate
               In late 2007 and early 2008, I was part of the first group of postgraduate       and debated the beauty and the blessings of being a woman. In the
               students to participate in the Springboard programme for women.                  end, the best lesson that Springboard taught me was not that I should
               The programme, aimed at empowering women in academia to                          see myself as a woman, different from men and not suitable for the
               progress in their professional and personal lives, introduced me to              quasi-male environment of the academic world. Rather, the lesson I
               different techniques with which I could develop skills and confidence            shall always carry with me is that I should see and present myself as
               to take control over my own life and actively pursue my ambitions.               a person, a person with opinions and ambitions, which, thanks to
               With women from different backgrounds across the university, I learned           Springboard, I plan to pursue confidently in the future.

               CETL Initiative:
               Oxford Career Accelerator Academic Mentoring Programme
               John Kirwan, Oxford University Careers Service

               While many DPhil students at Oxford aspire to academic careers, their sole experience
               of academia is often limited to Oxford, where they may have studied continuously
               since undertaking their first degree. Consequently their appreciation of the wider
               world of academia, where nearly all Oxford DPhils will actually begin their academic
               careers, may be somewhat lacking.

               ‘Career Accelerator’ is an innovative academic mentoring                         I queries about the scheme being dealt with by a part-time project
               model (based loosely on ‘Manchester Gold’ a graduate mentoring                     coordinator who also periodically contacts each mentor/mentee
               programme) designed to put Oxford DPhils and early career                          to check that things are running smoothly;
               research staff in touch with experienced academics, all former                   I the programme closing with a final round-up and evaluation
               Oxford alumni, now working as academics outside of Oxford.                         meeting in Oxford.
               The scheme helps mentees to gain a broader understanding
               of the range of issues involved in pursuing an academic career,                  Very positive feedback was received from both mentors and
               through mentoring on career-related matters. First piloted by the                mentees after the pilot. This was evaluated by the CETL and
               Careers Service in 2007/8, with fourteen mentor/mentee pairs,                    reported outcomes for mentees included gaining:
               support from the University’s Graduate Skills Advisory Group                     I guidance about jobs, CV writing, job interviews
               and funding from the CETL, key aspects of the scheme include:                    I perspectives on working in other institutions
                                                                                                I an understanding of the importance of teaching
               I attempts to match mentees with mentors on the basis of                         I a realisation that there is no model academic career
                 interests, experience and aspirations, although this is not                    I opening up of mind / ambition to broader possibilities
                 always possible;                                                                 (types of job / institution)
               I a six month programme, commencing with an opening briefing                     I specific knowledge of publishing venues and formats
                 for mentors and mentees. Participants commit, at the outset, to                I a better understanding of employer perspectives in job
                 completing the process, unless unavoidable circumstances arise;                  applications
               I mentors and mentees agreeing dates/times/locations to meet;                    I insights into teaching (in one case through observing the
                 methods of communication (e.g. meetings, telephone discussion,                   mentor in practice)
                 or e-mail contact), etc, at the outset of the programme.                       I insights into how to balance teaching and research.
                 All mentees are encouraged to undertake at least one visit to
                 their mentor’s workplace and it is the mentee’s responsibility to              Mentors also reported favourably, often being attracted to the
                 ‘drive’ the programme, once launched;                                          scheme by ideas of ‘giving back’ to younger generations, intrinsic
               I mentors offering up to 20 hours of consultation time across the                interest, the potential for learning and skills development for
                 specified period, at mutually agreed times. The content of all                 themselves, as well as anticipation of meeting inspiring young
                 mentoring consultations is confidential;                                       academics. In 2008/9 the scheme has been expanded to 35 pairs,
               I mentors offering advice based purely on the                                    mostly from Humanities and Social Sciences backgrounds, and it
                 basis of their personal experience of academia, it being entirely              looks to be proving a valuable tool in helping to shape ideas about
                 up to mentees to decide how they use such advice in reviewing                  academic practice by facilitating a greater understanding of what
                 their career plans and making any career decisions;                            careers in academia actually entail. Evaluation of the 2008/9
               I one or more personal development workshops on relevant                         scheme, which ended in June 2009, will provide further insights
                 themes for mentees (e.g. Academic CVs);                                        to develop the programme still further.

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      Experiencing the Career Accelerator Academic Mentoring
      Philip Lockley, Faculty of History

      Graduate research at Oxford involves both trials and triumphs. Towards the end of
      any doctoral project there is also a sense of transition – a moving from student to
      specialist, from trainee to practitioner. To feel this is especially welcome to anyone
      hoping to use their doctorate to launch an academic career. Yet, until the thesis is
      finished, or even in those first terms after completion, transition can sometimes seem
      more a state than a stage. And the steps to take to get beyond it, to turn hope or
      intention into career progress are rarely clear.

      I was a third-year doctoral student when I felt myself in this scenario.       priorities matched. Now based at Sheffield, after experience of
      Learning of the Career Accelerator scheme in an email sent to a                several institutions, he was keen to advise on combining teaching
      wide section of the Oxford Graduate body, I saw an academic                    and research interests.
      mentor as an ideal source for advice and insights on negotiating
      the steps between finishing a doctorate and securing an academic               Over the six months or so of the scheme, we stayed in regular
      career. Of particular interest to me, was the potential in the                 e-mail contact, meeting twice in Oxford over lunch, and once at
      scheme for introductions to academic environments beyond                       his home institution, when I job-shadowed for half a day. Over the
      Oxford. Having come here for graduate work after a first degree at             lunches we discussed various issues, including getting published,
      a northern red-brick, I had retained an ambition to return north for           teaching experience, job applications and interview preparation.
      academic practice. Aware of how, in northern cities, universities have         The job-shadowing was not something the Accelerator Scheme
      been drivers of recent regeneration and development, drawing in                itself suggested, but was an opportunity that my mentor offered
      new populations and educating long-resident ones, I felt this was              during a discussion of teaching styles. As my teaching experience
      something to which I’d like to contribute. A scheme within which I             at Oxford being limited to one or two students at a time, I was
      could request a mentor with experience of moving on from Oxford,               especially interested in other teaching dynamics, especially
      to pastures northern, appealed. Another interest I had was balancing           seminars. I therefore visited my mentor for a morning in his
      research and teaching interests in the early stages of a career; how           department, observing a third-year seminar class, as well as tutorials
      not to prioritise one too much to the detriment of the other.                  with dissertation students. With an opportunity to talk through my
                                                                                     impressions of the sessions, this was perhaps the most stimulating –
      Accepted on the scheme, I met my mentor during a day at the                    even inspirational and aspirational – moment of the scheme.
      Careers Service. In discussion with other mentees, I found that                It allowed me to visualise, in a way discussion over lunch perhaps
      the reasons others had joined the scheme were varied: few had so               could never do, where it was I wanted to get to: beyond the
      explicit an interest in leaving Oxford. Meeting my mentor, we got              transition state, to a room of students discussing and debating their
      on well, noting quickly how my concerns and his experience and                 subject eagerly, led in their learning by a fully-fledged academic.

      CETL Initiative:
      Disciplinary Academic Practice Events
      Sarah Steele, DPhil in Law, Christ Church

      The CETL has run a series of one-day colloquia in conjunction with Higher Education Academy
      Subject Centres. These events bring together doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers, and
      junior and senior academics, to explore and discuss the challenges and opportunities for those
      wishing to prepare for and develop academic careers in particular disciplinary areas. Eight
      such sessions have been held so far, and more are planned for 2009-10. Sarah Steele attended
      an event in March 2009 co-organised with the UK Centre for Legal Education (UKCLE).

                                                                                                                                  Article overleaf
Illuminatio June 2009 f:Illuminatio Oct 08                19/8/09      15:35      Page 8

               The “Changing Academic Practice: Implications for Future Legal               managerialisation of universities. While this issue appeared at first to
               Academics” one-day colloquium brought together various people                be a consideration on the peripheries my career progression plans as
               from across the UK at the start of their careers in Law teaching.            a fledgling academic, many of the shared concerns at the conference
               Arriving at the event, I was well aware that Law teaching is complex         revolved around the shift away from a focus on preparing students
               and multifaceted. Through three years of part-time teaching, I knew           for intellectual and professional practice (e.g. teaching), to structured
               that academics are expected to demonstrate excellence in a number            research requirements and increasingly administrative academic roles.
               of roles; contemporary universities suppose that academics will excel
               as teachers, researchers, supervisors, administrators                                               For me, this prompted consideration of not
               and often as managers. But inasmuch as the role                                                     only what teaching and research I undertake,
               itself is diverse, I arrived expecting that the forum      The colloquium challenged but also which roles I should accept and reject
               would pinpoint an overarching career path,                                                          within the University environment. As an early
               trajectories for academic law practice or uniform             me to think about more                career academic, I was well-aware of the need
               challenges facing new practitioners. I viewed the                                                   to publish, to gain teaching experience and to
               experience as an opportunity to network and to
                                                                            than just ticking boxes to             network, but had not considered perhaps the
               gain assurance that I was ‘not alone’. But instead,         ensure career progression,              most important point made in the discussion:
               what I found was an opportunity not only to turn                                                    that young academics need to think strategically
               the lens on academic practice, but also on myself          but also to consider what it and learn to (occasionally) say ‘no’ to the variety
               and my strategies.                                                                                  of other tasks they are thrown. I began to
                                                                           means to be a practitioner              consider that I, as an early stage academic, had
               While I advise my students that reflection is core         in a complex and changing what Oprah would label affectionately as ‘the
               to the learning experience, I had not, until the                                                    disease to please’: I realised that many of the
               colloquium, mulled over the artistry of being                 academic environment.                 roles I take on often add no value to my personal
               a legal academic. By considering all the tasks                                                      academic development and distract from the
               required in the job, as well as my own experience                                                   important task of publishing.
               and the practice of other new and future legal academics, I found that
               the colloquium challenged me to think about more than just about             In short, while concerns about how to run tutorials and whether my
               ticking boxes to ensure career progression, but also to consider what        marks were in the range they ‘should’ be had dominated my mind
               it means to be a practitioner in a complex and changing academic             before the colloquium, the forum highlighted the challenge is in fact
               environment. Particularly, I was challenged consider how I am preparing      to think about my objectives and to consider my present trajectories,
               myself for academic employment and to ruminate on the issue of the           as well as the pathways I can take.

               CETL initiative:
               conference on fixed-term employment in research - small steps
               and open questions
               Dr Alis Oancea, Chair, Research Staff Forum, Department of Education

               The Research Staff Forum of the Oxford University Department of Education has
               been in place for at least the last five years and has the support of the department
               for its work in offering social and academic support for research staff and also in
               contributing to the development of more collaborative environments that draw
               together various categories of staff, within the department and beyond it.
               The Forum has undertaken a number of initiatives, including:                   Of these, our most recent initiative was a day conference, on 13
               interdisciplinary work on fixed-term employment in social science              May 2009, on fixed-term employment in social science research.
               research; small-scale empirical research on the condition and career           The conference was supported by the Centre for Excellence in
               plans of research staff; debate and, where appropriate, focussed               Preparing for Academic Practice and by the Social Sciences Division.
               responses to University-wide, national, and international codes                Speakers included Jacqueline Allen-Collinson (University of Exeter),
               and regulations affecting research staff; and plans for a tailored,            on occupational identity and the lived experience of undertaking
               researcher-led programme of research staff development in the                  contract research; David Mills (University of Oxford), on the
               department. We are currently exploring possibilities of linking with           demographic profile of social sciences; Lynn McAlpine (University
               other forums and organisations with similar remit.                             of Oxford), on the next generation of social scientists; and Zoe

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      Fowler (Independent consultant), on contract researchers, career                   I What were the complexities behind the generic trend in recent
      development, and capacity building. Iain Cameron (Head of                            years towards increased reliance on fixed-term contracts in the
      Careers, RCUK), Rebecca Nestor (Associate Director, Oxford                           social sciences? Is the trend currently slowing down or being
      Learning Institute), Matthew Smart (Divisional Officer, Oxford                       reversed?
      University Social Sciences Division), Justin Hutchence (University of              I What developments and forms of action are feasible and
      Reading), and Elizabeth Oliver (University of Liverpool) acted as                    recommendable for the future? What role can/ should legislative
      discussants. The conference was attended by key representatives of                   change play, compared to other aspects of research governance,
      Oxford University and of other UK universities, including decision-                  policy, and practice?
      makers and academic and support staff. I am currently preparing
      follow-up publications, including an edited collection of the papers               Over the last half decade, UK and European documents,
      and responses, and a thematic issue of a professional journal.                     including the 2008 UK Funders and Employers Concordat to
                                                                                         Support the Career Development of Researchers, have made
      The questions that structured the discussions at the conference were:              progress in addressing concerns deriving from these questions.
                                                                                         However, as the discussions at the May conference proved, the
      I How does fixed-term employment affect career patterns,                           issues around fixed-term employment in higher education research
        researcher development, occupational identities, and the lived                   are still very much alive. One positive outcome of the conference
        experience of doing research, among social science researchers?                  was the recognition, among all those present, of the fact that the
      I How do recent trends in the employment of researchers in the                     Social Sciences can offer excellent qualitative and quantitative
        social sciences affect disciplinary development and the strategic                analyses of the topic, to inform further policies and decisions
        development of research units?                                                   at all levels of the system.

      Divisional Perspectives
      Preparing for academic practice in
      the Humanities: taking ownership,
      promoting reflection
      Professor Ros Ballaster & Dr Debbie McVitty

      “I have concluded that teaching is a process
                                                                                               CETL capital funding contributed to the construction of the Ioannou Centre
      of learning for both the tutor and the student”                                                 for Classical and Byzantine Studies. Photograph by Martin Cleveland

      Sarah Roger (DPhil candidate in Modern Languages), Developing Learning and Teaching Portfolio (April, 2008)

      Since the pilot Developing Learning and Teaching programme ran in                  training and development in teaching in the course of their degree,
      the English faculty in 2006 with six doctoral students, CETL-funded                and so far sixteen students in English, History, Modern Languages,
      preparation for academic practice initiatives have evolved in a range              Linguistics, Music and Theology have achieved Higher Education
      of directions throughout the Humanities Division.                                  Academy recognition. Faculty mentors also report that the
                                                                                         experience has encouraged them productively to reflect on
      The early focus was on setting up teaching programmes in                           and revisit their pedagogical habits.
      faculties, and evolving Divisional support for graduates on those
      programmes. Faculties have developed programmes that are                           Having established teaching programmes, Humanities turned its
      responsive to their own subject-specific teaching practices, but                   attention to the preparation of graduates for wider academic
      within the framework of an agreement of minimum provision: that                    practice, running seminars and workshops on career preparation,
      each student should have the opportunity to observe teaching,                      presenting at conferences, developing a DPhil project proposal,
      and to be observed as a teacher by an experienced mentor.                          publishing research, “managing graduate study” and handling the
                                                                                         DPhil viva, with more activities in the pipeline.
      Faculty mentoring programmes have been complemented by
      Divisional teaching seminars, which themselves engender lively                     Most recently, we have piloted a particularly unusual initiative in the
      debate across and within Humanities faculties. All DPhil students in               Faculty of Oriental Studies: appointing graduates to identify their
      pursuit of academic careers have the opportunity to undertake                      own training and academic practice needs and to run programmes

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               to meet these with the support of the Director of Graduate Studies            often through trial and error - how to research, how to teach or
               and the Humanities Training Coordinator.                                      how to operate within an intellectual culture can leave graduates
                                                                                             anxious about a perceived gap between themselves and an
               Likewise, in the History Faculty we have provided funding to                  imaginary Top Academic.
               encourage growth of the intellectual research community
               among early career researchers through                                                             Peer conversation, mentoring, seminars or
               researcher-led events. Before the end of                                                           workshops and individual experience encourage
               CETL funding we expect to roll out divisional-                                                     graduate students to take ownership of the
               wide opportunities for our postdoctoral              Graduate students are often                   process of ‘becoming an academic’ through
               colleagues on a similar model.                                                                     critical reflection and practice rather than
                                                                        convinced that there is a                 striving to match an externally-imposed
               So much for the measurable outputs. The great                                                      academic ideal.
                                                                         “blueprint” for Academic
               value of these programmes must always be,
               not that they exist, but that they contribute         Practice – if only some expert          We are lucky to work with a cohort of
               to a development in perceptions of what                                                       outstanding graduate students and early
               academia is all about among the academic                 would tell them what it is.          career researchers. Paul Ramsden’s Learning
               leaders of the future.                                                                        to Teach in Higher Education, a core text for
                                                                                                             Developing Learning and Teaching, argues that
               Humanities’ work around preparation for academic practice has          the highest form of teaching and learning is one in which teachers
               developed two key principles: ownership and reflection. When they      learn from their students. We are consistently impressed with the
               begin programmes of research, teaching and service, graduate           intellectual quality and commitment to teaching and learning from
               students are often convinced that there is a blueprint for academic    our graduates and early career researchers. There is, indeed, much
               practice – if only some expert would tell them what it is. Learning –  that the University can learn from them.

               Dispatches from the Social Sciences:
               Dr David Mills, Department of Education

               I hold an unusual academic post. My university
               lectureship combines the standard duties of
               research, teaching, and examining with a
               five-year half-time responsibility for the           This seminar room at the Department of Education was rebuilt using
                                                                    CETL capital funds.”
               ‘development, management and delivery
               of the CETL programme within Oxford’s Social Sciences Division’. The Division is
               highly decentralized, with funding and strategy decisions devolved to departments.
               By comparison with a job description that involves integrating ‘teaching development’
               with the ‘graduate skills’ agenda across the division, the lecturing role is easy.
               In brief, my job is to influence the way                        Being ‘embedded’ in               My first task was to understand the informal
               departments prepare and support their graduates                                                   decision making processes within each
               who teach, whilst not treading on too many local         departments allows graduate department. This is easier said than done, for in
               sensitivities. When I took up the post in 2006 I                                                  big, factional and relatively ‘undepartmentalised’
                                                                           teaching co-ordinators to
               gradually became aware of the politics that                                                       departments, institutional power is diffuse. Key
               surrounded tutorial teaching. Most departments              respond to local concerns.            decision-makers had more pressing concerns
               have relatively little control over who does this                                                 than short-term teaching initiatives. Initially, a
               teaching. Within the Social Sciences the key issues                                               lot of emails went unanswered. Then, suddenly,
               are equity (Who gets teaching opportunities, and how transparent and       my fortunes changed. As is often the case, the incentive was financial.
               fair is this allocation?) and quality (How good are graduate teachers?     I had been thinking about using the available funds to ‘buy out’
               How well are they supported?). Formal approaches to allocating             the teaching time of academic staff who could act as mentors.
               teaching – like teaching registers – rub awkwardly against a tried and     But the idea was inchoate, and given the pressures on people’s
               tested approach to ‘quality assurance’, whereby tutors delegate teaching   time, it was hard to find volunteers. Then the Anthropology Director
               to their own students, or to trusted colleagues and friends.               of Graduate Studies came up with the idea of creating a part-time

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      departmental ‘graduate teaching coordinator’ role.         Some appointees are                    Some appointees are doctoral students, others
      Being paid for one day a week in term would,                                                      are faculty, but all are highly committed to
      they suggested, suit a senior doctoral student          doctoral students, others are teaching and to reflecting critically on academic
      or post-doctoral researcher. Provided they had                                                    practice. Each brings different skills to the post.
      tutorial teaching experience they would be
                                                                  faculty, but all are highly           Being ‘embedded’ in departments allows them
      well-placed to mentor and support those new              committed to teaching and to respond to local concerns, and regular termly
      to teaching. Establishing a formal post in every                                                  meetings allow us to exchange ideas and
      department ensured local ‘ownership’, and as                 to reflecting critically on          experiences. Innovations in one department are
      the role becomes indispensable, should allow                                                      quickly taken up by others. I support the group
      sustained commitment once the money runs out.
                                                                       academic practice.               as a whole, convene a division-wide ‘Talking
                                                                                                        Teaching’ discussion group, offer sessions on
      The idea sparked interest, and took on a life                                writing teaching portfolios, and maintain a dedicated set of web-learn
      of its own. In short succession, most other departments followed             resources. My next challenge is to ensure that departments support
      Anthropology’s example, and now there are almost a dozen such                these roles when CETL funding comes to an end in 2010. So far, the
      posts. In each case the role and responsibilities are subtly different.      omens are auspicious.

      CETL, MPLS and preparation for Academic Practice in the Sciences
      Dr Barbara J Gabrys, MPLS Academic Advisor

      For a scientist faced with this issue, a question of definition – “What is Academic
      Practice?” – arises immediately. At Oxford, the Mathematical, Physical and Life
      Sciences (MPLS) Division comprises ten departments: Chemistry, Computing
      Laboratory, Earth Sciences, Engineering Science, Materials, the Mathematical Institute,
      Plant Sciences, Physics, Statistics and Zoology. Would the term “Academic Practice”
      mean the same to a zoologist studying a life of a minuscule amoeba, as to an
      astrophysicist witnessing the births and deaths of stars? And what about people
      creating abstract mathematical constructs, or building artificial intelligence?

      Our approach to the CETL rests upon the                  We will continue to provide              The theme of the seminars in Michaelmas
      assumption that there are indeed common,                                                          Term was: Becoming an Independent Researcher.
      recognisable elements of “Academic Practice”            essential professional support Individual sessions covered topics such as:
      which allow us to build a coherent programme                                                      managing your time; writing research papers and
                                                                  for people who wish to
      for aspiring and early career academics in the                                                    grant applications; giving a good research seminar;
      Division. The PLTO and DLT programs which are             develop academic careers                and making a good impression at interview.
      more discipline-specific have been embedded
      in the Departments from the beginning of the                                                      Hilary Term's seminar theme was entitled:
      CETL. Close links with Divisional systems for providing transferable      Starting a New Job whilst Keeping Your Sanity. The seminars included:
      skills, and with the current Oxford Learning Institute programme          handling new roles; assessing your strengths and weaknesses through
      in “Developing Academic Practice”, help to forge a holistic approach      Belbin profiles; interacting and managing other people; building your
      in which all the roles that academics play are acknowledged               research group; and an introduction to ‘Designing for Teaching’.
      and examined.
                                                                                In Trinity Term, the seminars were grouped under the heading
      An integrated programme of this kind, developed for post-docs and         of Enjoy your Job. The main theme was "Independence and
      research staff in MPLS, has been taking place in the Division during      Interdependence" and key areas explored included "Managing
      the 2008-9 academic year. It was pioneered by Professor Jane              your mind: work-life balance".
      Langdale in Plant Sciences, and was adapted by me for use within
      MPLS. The aim of this series of seminars is to prepare senior post-       So, what next? Currently, the most pressing concerns about the MPLS
      doctoral researchers and newly-appointed academic research staff for      CETL programme are:
      careers in academia at and beyond Oxford. The sessions are grouped
      in three blocks, by term, and together form a unified whole; it is thus   I rationalising and streamlining all current training provision in the
      recommended that participants attend the whole series.                      Division and departments

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               I finding ways of honouring the University’s commitment to the new                 I have no doubt that there are no simple answers, but I remain
                 Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers                       hopeful that, after the end of the CETL’s period of operation, we will
                 (                                            continue to provide essential professional support for people in the
               I the need to provide a natural development path to aspiring                       MPLS Division who wish to pursue and develop academic careers.
                 scientists, starting from the first days of the DPhil until well into the
                 early stages of an academic post

               Divisional Co-ordination:
               Medical Sciences
               Dr Catarina Gadelha

               An integral part of most postgraduate or
               postdoctoral training programmes is an
               involvement in teaching. Postgraduate
               students are encouraged to take their first
               steps in teaching through participation in
               practical demonstration classes, or helping
               to train project students in the lab –
               a task for which they have a unique
               advantage in being able to talk the           Siu Po Lee, a fourth year Biochemistry student, has just completed her viva for
                                                             her undergraduate project. She is pictured in a teaching laboratory which was
               language of science and the language of refurbished with the support of the CETL capital funding stream, and where she
                                                             was supervised for her project by a trained postgraduate student, Nicola Laurieri.
               undergraduates. Postdoctoral researchers
               are often encouraged to run tutorials
               and/or lectures, if they are keen to develop academic careers. These young teachers –
               postgraduate students and postdoctoral staff – can thus make a significant addition
               to an institution’s pedagogical capacity.

               The need for training such people who are                       Teaching portfolios ...              participants for academic practice. Teaching
               involved in teaching is ubiquitous across the                                                        practice can include tutorial teaching with support
               University, but is perhaps felt most keenly in the               represent impressive                of a designated mentor who is an experienced
               Medical Science Division because of the many                                                         member of University staff and usually also a
                                                                             additions to CVs during
               researchers who teach. To solve the problem                                                          tutorial Fellow in one of Oxford’s Colleges.
               of training as wide a group as possible, the               the process of searching for
               Medical Sciences Division set up a mechanism for                                                     Those who wish to further their training are
               disseminating information about a comprehensive                    jobs in academia.                 encouraged to prepare professional portfolios,
               programme of training courses, educational                                                           documenting achievements and reflecting on
               research, mentoring, networking and resource                                                         their teaching. To support this activity the Medical
               provision - all aimed at supporting postgraduates and postdoctoral            Sciences Division assigns a mentor to assist planning and delivering
               researchers who wish to teach. Linked to the main University Skills Portal,   a course, providing feedback and support in preparing the portfolio.
               the Medical Sciences Skills Portal (       Teaching portfolios grant formal accreditation by the Higher Education
               allows students and post-docs to see what’s available, to book a place        Academy, both representing impressive additions to one’s CV during the
               and subsequently to give feedback on their learning experiences.              process of searching for a job in academia.
               More importantly, records of those people that have been on Divisional
               Training courses are retained on the Divisional tutorial register.            The training available through the Medical Science Division has support
               Other opportunities to teach have arisen directly through networking at       from the HEFCE-funded Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning
               training events to promote increasingly independent teaching to prepare       (CETL) which is focused on “Preparing for Academic Practice”. In addition

Illuminatio June 2009 f:Illuminatio Oct 08                      19/8/09      15:35        Page 13

      to providing training directly in teaching, the Medical Sciences                   Amongst these training activities are many which are student led,
      Division has provided a series of other activities preparing students and          including the highly successful Annual Divisional Student Science
      researchers for Academic Practice. These activities include: honing writing        Symposium which is run entirely by students with a senior academic
      skills for academic papers as well as for a thesis; presenting work to a           as adviser. Almost 100 participants joined in this event in 2008 with
      specialist and general audience; awareness of intellectual property issues         prizes awarded for the best talks.
      and the ethics of conducting research and designing experiments.
      The thorny, but highly relevant, question of raising research funding is           Join in with what’s on offer – it’s enjoyable and will widen your
      also covered with difficult issues of eligibility being addressed as well          experience, which is what Preparing for Academic Practice is
      the more practical question of planning for Full Economic Costing                  all about.
      where the Research Services Office of the University gives expert advice.

      External Perspectives:
      The changing role of academics – a view from the Higher
      Education Academy
      Helen Thomas, Assistant Director, Higher Education Academy

      Whatever sphere we are engaged in, the mantra that repeats in each is ‘change,’
      accompanied, invariably, by clichés claiming change as the only certainty.
      The role of academics in Higher Education is clearly no exception.

      With the Dearing Report into Higher Education               Academic Practice cannot                 technologies effectively in their practice.
      (1997), the emphasis on and the importance of                                                        Growth in student numbers and a decrease in
      developing a professional approach to teaching                        stand still.                   the unit of resource are reflected in an average
      took root. This was further nurtured by the White                                                    increase in the student staff ratio of 10-15%.
      Paper The Future of Higher Education (2003) which                                                    This challenges the tutor-student relationship
      called for standards for teaching which all those new to teaching in         which has been at the heart of British higher education. Larger group
      Higher Education should meet. The political interest in teaching and         size calls for new skills to stimulate and facilitate effective learning.
      learning has not abated since. During the last year Government               The more diverse backgrounds of future students may present
      sought contributions to the debate on the future of Higher Education;        pastoral and support needs which are markedly greater than those
      HEFCE, commissioned The Future Workforce for Higher Education and,           we currently encounter. How far should academic practice extend
      through the Financial Sustainability Strategy Group, a report on the         to meet these needs?
      Sustainability of Learning and Teaching in English Higher Education
      was published. These are informing the Government’s framework for            The report on the Future Workforce for Higher Education envisages
      higher education for the next 10-15 years. What a reading of the             academic careers where the emphases on teaching, enterprise, or
      various reports highlights is that the future profile of Higher Education    research will vary over time. It also identifies a demand for academics
      demands an intensification of many developments that are already             to work more across disciplines and to engage in an enhanced
      underway; the impact on academic practice is far from insignificant.         relationship with employers. How will this fit with individual
                                                                                   academic identities and practice which are so importantly shaped
      The student profile will continue to change with increased                   by disciplinary specialism?
      participation rates in higher education; there will be more part-time
      students, and greater diversity in background and qualifications on          Responding to diversification in the range of activities undertaken,
      entry. To respond to this diverse student profile, academics will have       and to a greater alignment of academic working preferences
      to develop greater flexibility in the content and design of curricula,       to student demands and needs; and incorporating greater
      and in assessment; and will need to offer greater variety in delivery        interdisciplinary work in both research and teaching are not matters
      modes to cater for students’ needs. This includes continued use of           of choice. Academic practice cannot stand still: it must respond
      technology, including Web2 technologies, demanding that academics            flexibly and professionally to the changing profile of the Higher
      acquire new knowledge and skills to enable them to apply these               Education context.

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               External Perspectives:
               Preparing researchers for academic practice
               Dr Tristram Hooley, Senior Manager, Stakeholders & Networks, Vitae

               Researchers’ career paths lead them in all directions. Around 50% of researchers start
               their post-doctoral careers in the HE sector with the rest working in manufacturing,
               finance, business and IT, health, public, administration and a wide range of other
               sectors (What Do PhDs Do? – Trends, 2007). The (very) high level skills developed
               by early stage researchers through their experience of research and engagement
               in professional development serve them well when they move out of academia
               into industry. However, a broad range of transferable skills also create strong
               foundations for academic careers which increasingly require academics to be
               excellent researchers, teachers and administrators. Academic practice combines all
               of these activities, and also requires many practitioners to be able to manage projects,
               finances and people, and to engage with outreach and knowledge transfer activity.

               In 2002 Gareth Roberts wrote that “science                     Opportunities for skills         Currently the Vitae Database lists 168 practices
               and engineering graduates’ and postgraduates’                                                   (as of February 2009) which focus on the
               education does not lead them to develop the                  development for doctoral           development of academic practice –
               transferable skills and knowledge required by             researchers and members of representing nearly 30% of the total number
               R&D employers” (SET for Success, 2002). He also                                                 of practices recorded on the database.
               noted that “ UK PhD study and postdoctoral work           research staff have improved Examples include the University of Oxford’s
               is not particularly good training for would-be                                                  seminar series Preparation for Academic
               academic staff, because of its near exclusive                      dramatically.                Practice in the Sciences, and the University of
               focus on research and its lack of preparation for                                               York’s Preparing Future Academics programme.
               other elements of the academic role including                                                   The development of teaching and learning
               teaching, knowledge transfer/reach-out activity and student                practice continues to be a focus for many academic practice
               welfare” (SET for Success, 2002, p.127). These findings led to the         courses. However there is also a developing range of practice that
               rapid development of a funding stream (known as the Roberts’               focuses on other aspects of academic life, including: publishing; public
               funds) and a highly energetic response from the sector, into               understanding of research; commercialisation of research; networking;
               which the Vitae Database of Practice provides a valuable insight.          organising academic conferences; ethics; applying for funding; and
               Seven years on from SET for Success and the opportunities for skills       on many more subjects beside. (The Vitae database of practice can be
               development for doctoral researchers and members of research               accessed at; you are encouraged to explore the
               staff have improved dramatically.                                          database further, and to add your own practices to it.)

               Roberts’ concerns about effective preparation for an academic career         The picture that emerges from analysis of the Vitae Database
               have encouraged skills developers, careers staff and staff developers        shows a sector that is supporting researchers to think carefully
               to innovate and to provide a much larger range of support for both           and critically about their careers, and which is engaged explicitly
               doctoral researchers and members of research staff. There has been           with issues centred around the development of academic practice.
               a proliferation of courses, workshops and activities designed to             Those who work with researchers to help them prepare for academic
               develop researchers as effective academics. For example, careers             practice see the academic skill set as complex, multi-faceted and,
               services, which have always supported researchers in academic                importantly, as one which overlaps with other (non-academic)
               careers, have been able to expand their contributions in this area.          professions. There has been a great deal of progress since the
               Many careers services have appointed specialists and developed               publication of SET for Success and we can be optimistic that today’s
               a range of practices designed to encourage researchers thinking              researchers will be well placed to make a strong and confident
               about academic career management.                                            transition as they take up academic posts.

Illuminatio June 2009 f:Illuminatio Oct 08                    19/8/09         15:35     Page 15

      Concluding thoughts: the future of the CETL
      programme at Oxford
      Professor Tim Softley, Associate Head (Academic), MPLS Division

      Why is the work of the Oxford CETL programme important? Why should it be continued
      it beyond its formal end in 2010, even if this requires the use of scarce resources of both
      time and money? Those of us who were graduate students twenty or thirty years ago
      progressed to where we are today without the support of a CETL programme, so why
      is the present world any different? Surely the way to become a good researcher and
      teacher is just to get on with doing good research and good teaching? And why should
      senior academics spend their time mentoring the next generation, when they could
      better spend that time in their own teaching and research?

      The Oxford CETL programme is about ‘preparation for academic                    Firstly, the very existence of the CETL programme highlights the need
      practice’, and it is therefore about preparing the junior members               for us to constantly regenerate our disciplines through the injection
      of academic community for what we as academics do – teaching;                   of new blood of the highest quality. Oxford is particularly good at
      research scholarship and inquiry; and service to the academic                   hiring outstanding young academics and we must ensure that this
      community. Much of the emphasis of the CETL program to date has                 continues and that these young academics can survive the first
      quite rightly been concerned with the development and embedding                 challenging years in a full appointment.
      of training and support for graduate students and post docs to teach
      – notwithstanding Oxford’s emphasis on teaching by close contact                Our University strategic plan states:
      with senior academics, our grad students and post docs have the
      potential to offer a fresh and imaginative contribution to the                   “The Collegiate University has a prime role in developing the next
      learning of Oxford’s undergraduates, that complements the                       generation of academics and researchers. The colleges and departments
      teaching of more experienced academics, and they can also act as                already provide teaching opportunities for postgraduate research students
      very effective role models. The CETL programme helps to ensure                  and postdoctoral researchers. The developments underway via the work
      that this wider sharing of the teaching responsibilities does not               of the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) on preparation
      diminish the world-class education that the Oxford undergraduates               for academic practice, together with the expansion of Career Development
      can expect.                                                                     Fellowships, will make significant contributions to fulfilling our responsibility
                                                                                      to those who aspire to teach. More broadly, we will pursue through the
      But as the CETL programme continues to move forward I believe we                departments and faculties, the Careers Service and the Learning Institute,
      must also give emphasis to preparation for the research and service             the provision of top-quality training for all our research graduates,
      aspects of academic practice. Being a successful researcher means               integrating research, employability, and personal skills, in order to equip
      much more than just having good ideas and getting on with putting               our students and postdoctoral researchers for their professional futures.”
      them into practice. And while service to the academic community is
      something which we may wish to protect younger academics from, a                Although it may be tempting, especially in the sciences, to regard
      little exposure to this side of academic life will not be harmful. It is        our researchers and graduate students as “another pair of hands in the
      generally accepted that our academic system would fall apart without            lab”, it is surely in everyone’s interest to provide some broader support
      people who are prepared to referee papers and grants, to prioritise             for their potential academic careers. Indeed providing this support
      funding applications, to organise meetings, mark exam papers, lead              may make all the difference as to whether they are able to stay in
      course reviews, select students, write references and award                     academia, or whether they want to do so.
      nominations, appoint staff, etc. The academic world is what it is
      because largely we have not handed these tasks to administrators or             Secondly, the academic world is different now from twenty years ago.
      computers. Allowing the apprentice academics to see something of                Expectations on academics for tangible outputs are higher than ever
      this part of an academic’s role will enable them to find the right              before. We need to account for the money we are receiving. We are a
      balance when they are appointed to an academic position.                        much more regulated community and the reporting burdens are much
                                                                                      heavier. Undergraduate education is moving towards a more student-
      CETL is a national programme and other universities have done                   centred approach; students are paying fees (and maybe we would like
      quite different things with their CETL awards. Durham for example               them to pay higher fees) and their view on the education they receive
      has established a centre for “active learning in computing”.....and a           does count. The government, HEFCE and the research councils place a
      group of Northern universities have set up a centre for “music and              very high priority on developing people, and in awarding funding they do
      inclusivity”. So why has “preparation for academic practice” been a             want to know what kind of personal and professional development we
      useful development for Oxford?                                                  are offering awardees of fellowships/studentships. The media does want

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               to know what we are doing to train people for teaching – and, perhaps              and good ideas; it gets people out of the rut of their immediate
               especially, what we in Oxford are doing. And Oxford has developed into             departmentally focused situation. It gets people talking and thinking
               a truly international community; increasingly we are appointing people             about how to support the needs of our young academic colleagues.
               from overseas who may have rather little knowledge of the UK HE                    It gets the students and post-docs from different situations to meet
               system and will need much help and guidance to get them started in it.             together to share their experiences. Re-inventing the wheel is a very
                                                                                                  common Oxford trait, especially in our world of subsidiarity and college
               Thirdly, the academic world is an increasingly complex one: it                     independence. But just now and then it is useful to recognise that others
               presents diverse opportunities, and we need to make sure that young                may have thought about this before ... in another college ... in another
               academics understand what kind of world this is going to be, and                   department ... in another University ... and that they may just have
               understand what options they have open to them. Academic practice                  done something a little better. Or that we can lighten the burden of
               does still mean doing good research and being a good teacher, above                supporting academic practice by putting on some training jointly with
               all else. But it also means developing an international profile and                other departments. It is particularly helpful for a graduate student who
               international connections; communicating the outputs of research;                  is doing some class or tutorial teaching, and who maybe hasn’t had
               advocacy for, and service to, our disciplines; mentoring individuals;              this unique Oxford experience. I would suggest that the key to the future
               leading a small team, while simultaneously being part of a wider team;             of the Preparation for Academic Practice programme will depend on
               collaborating and networking with others inside and outside Oxford;                three factors.
               engaging in inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary research
               programmes; managing and taking financial and administrative                       Firstly, it will be important for all academics to recognise that the
               responsibility for projects; being aware of ethical, safety, and other             academic apprenticeship aspect of a graduate student’s or postdoc ‘s
               impacts of research; raising money; making judgements on others;                   training is significant, and to recognise their role in supporting the
               interviewing and being interviewed; supporting the welfare of others;              apprenticeship. This should be the starting point for our thinking
               making tough decisions. It means selling what we are trying to do                  about academic practice, as it is the departments and faculties who
               to others. It means constantly trying to deal with emails about tiny               are best placed to know what is needed in their disciplines. This inner
               matters while simultaneously trying to think about solutions to                    knowledge must be built in to any future programmes. Secondly, we
               the world’s major problems, challenges, its culture and its history.               must think about how an academic practice programme can provide
               It means conveying the excitement of our own disciplines to the                    seamless support from the first year research student to the end
               next generation in an undergraduate lecture or tutorial while                      of probation as an academic, while at the same time having the
               sharing the burden of examining and progress-report writing.                       flexibility to deal with the very wide range of backgrounds of the
                                                                                                  students and researchers who will benefit from the training.
               How do we prepare someone who is starting up as a graduate student or
               post doc for what is to come as a future academic? Yes, their publication          Thirdly, we must accept that some resources are required, and although
               record will be a crucial determining factor in whether they get a job, but         establishing this claim as a priority is going to be challenging, it will be
               we all know that there is more to it than that. Much of the support that is        a major regressive step to throw away the good work done to date.
               needed can be done at the level of the individual supervisor – researcher          The resource levels required do not need to be high. But we will need
               relationship. The CETL emphasis on embedding activities in departments             people to lead us in this work, to keep us talking and thinking about
               is crucial, highlighting the notion of the disciplinary apprenticeship.            these issues, to support what we do in our departments and take some
               But having a University-wide programme of preparation for academic                 of the administrative and reporting burden away from us, and to act as
               practice raises the profile of such work, helps to share good practice             advocates for this important work in the outside world.

                                                                                                  Social Sciences – Professional Training for Social Scientists
               Useful Resources                                                         

                                                                                                  Research Supervision
               Resources within the University of Oxford, related to Academic           
               Practice, can be found via the following weblinks:
                                                                                                  Careers Service
               Oxford Learning Institute                                                
                                                                                                  Higher Education Academy
               Humanities Division – Training and Support:                              
                                                                                                  This edition of Illuminatio was edited by Lynn McAlpine, Nick Hopwood
               Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division –                                and Richard Arnold. Comments on the publication are always welcome
               Skills Training                                                                    and should be sent to
                    Oxford Learning Institute
               l              University of Oxford
                                 Littlegate House
                                                                                                  St Ebbe’s Street
               Medical Sciences – Skills Training                                                 Oxford OX1 1PT