Webinar 23 November 2020

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


Ruth Graham

After years of collecting evidence and building a new teaching career framework, the Advancing Teaching network of Ruth Graham and an international coalition now moved online. As many are busy getting the framework up and running, for this webinar leaders from three frontrunning universities sketched how they implemented the new strategies. The high turn-out with approximately two hundred participants was a clear indicator of the urgency of this webinar.

Redefining career policies
In the welcome words Jeroen Geurts (chair of Dutch ZonMw) stipulated that all fourteen Dutch research-oriented universities have engaged in redefining their career policies, which will include recognition for excellent teaching. It is clear that these changes fit in with the international good practices presented in this webinar. The original live meeting in Amsterdam had to be cancelled, the webinars however allow for a wider international audience to join the debate about these important changes in the reward system. Ruth Graham then sketched how the international Advancing Teaching efforts progressed over the years. This includes a Teaching Cultures Survey that was implemented with more than 15.000 academics giving their opinion.

System-wide thinking

Manon Kluijtmans

Manon Kluijtmans (Utrecht University, the Netherlands) outlined how two decades of educational career pathways have brought substantial benefits to both the quality of education and to the individuals who excel in designing and implementing all sorts of new education. Substantial educational efforts are now integrated via strategic career path planning. She urged to not only focus on the promotion criteria and decisions. A change of culture requires a complete eco-system in which both teacher and career development are part of our daily academic life, the senior fellowships leading to a full professorship in 3 to 5 years’ time and the educational leadership program were highlighted as examples.


Joe Chicharo


Evaluating progress is important

Joe Chicharo (University of Wollongong, Australia) outlined how their new strategies were implemented since 2014 using A-E levels in the different task domains. It turned out that global impact was a difficult educational parameter whereas national impact that is used since 2017 works much better with the availability of national references that can confirm such impact. The transformation is now well accepted. Career promotion committees have a diverse panel and they also make use of external assessors. This is part of ongoing efforts to provide consistency of decisions. Evaluating progress is important to make the new system work as intended.

Sam Smidt



New system needs time and support

Sam Smidt (UCL, UK) stipulated that all different elements in the academic career should be valued in a career framework. Staff should meet threshold requirements on all relevant fields whereas they can choose core and specialist levels for either education, research, societal impact or organizational roles. Those that opt for promotion are asked to provide impact narratives to outline their achievements and sphere of impact. This new approach fits much better with the broad spectrum of academic tasks. Introduction of such a new system requires a number of years and support from the academic leaders across the university.

Sasha Roseneil

Sasha Roseneil (also UCL) sketched the UK unrest about academic teaching-only jobs that were temporary, low paid and not well connected to the academic career system. This has now been remedied at UCL to a large extend, illustrating that both mixed careers and teaching-only pathways should be taken care of in the development of new frameworks.

Educational quality and mobility

The debate with the audience focused on how educational achievements could be compiled and assessed with some example frameworks and other resources being shared via the session chat, such as Utrecht indicators of educational achievements, the UCL framework, a NASEM(US) workshop report and a journal article on developing teacher identity. The questions also touched on the risks of being locked-in when other universities do not have such pathways. All three presenters were confident that as long as you put quality first, these new career paths will not hinder mobility, with no examples of lock-in to their knowledge. Actually some additional mobility is found when universities are looking for educational quality as part of a job profile.

Jeroen Geurts

Just do it!

Jeroen Geurts wrapped up the session, highlighting the main lessons, emphasizing the need to start doing while realizing that this is a process that will take years as it requires cultural change. It requires iterations to fine tune and fit-in with the university context. He thanked Ruth Graham and the other organisers for organizing this timely and interesting webinar.

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