Blog by Jan van der Veen, 4TU.CEE leader University of Twente

It was at the kick-off meeting of our 4TU.Centre for Engineering Education that keynote speaker Ruth Graham presented research outcomes showing that both senior university management and academics agree that teaching excellence should have more weight in academic careers. If everybody agrees, why is it not happening already? Universities are institutes for Higher Education, so how come that educational merits do not pay off as much as research grants and publications. Ruth Graham showed that the main showstopper was the lack of good and agreed measurement tools. Student surveys are valuable but should not be the only indicator. This is why the Royal Academy of Engineering (UK) asked her to develop such tools in collaboration with international partners. Together with 15 universities such as Harvard, MIT, NUS (Singapore), Chalmers (Gothenburg) and UNSW (Sidney), a teaching framework was developed and tested. University of Twente participated on behalf of the 4TU.Centre for Engineering Education, piloting tools in two faculties.


Teaching framework

This spring, the Royal Academy of Engineering (UK) launched the teaching framework that enables universities to implement career emphasis on education. The four level picture indicates how academic teachers can develop themselves. In the Netherlands the first level of effective teacher refers to the Dutch UTQ (BKO) level. Most Dutch universities have some sort of senior university teaching qualification (SUTQ) which can be linked to level 2. At the third level we see different tracks for those taking a leadership role and those opting for scholarship of teaching and learning. The fourth level is reserved for those having widespread impact beyond their own university.


Career framework for university teaching – Royal Academy of Engineering UK / Ruth Graham, www.teachingframework.com


In the international group of universities local contexts lead to different implementations. Some use the framework primarily for staff that fully operate on educational tasks, while others prefer to see combinations of research and education per academic, percentages of each to be discussed, and possibly also changing over time in someone’s career. Criteria for a professorship with an emphasis on education have been implemented at some of the Dutch universities.



At the educational event of VSNU on May 24th, Ruth Graham highlighted the main parts of the teaching framework and how it can be used. A well-received keynote in line with remarks by the minister of education Ingrid van Engelshoven and the VSNU chair Pieter Duisenberg. Similar approaches from all Dutch universities can make implementation easier and would then allow academics to transfer ‘educational achievements’ when moving from one university to another. As many domains are international, the link to the international group of universities is beneficial as well. Discussions are now ongoing how to monitor implementations and impact. The 4TU.Centre for Engineering Education is opting to participate. The proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say, so let’s see how it works out. Most Dutch universities have organised and concentrated their research quite well, further gains for society (and yes, also for ranking purposes) require a further upgrading of the educational side of academia including a well-defined link to career steps and professional development options that support staff in optimising their educational activities.


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