Organisation of Teaching
→ University Plan
The University Plan is worth reading because it identifies and describes the University’s Mission and Values. The University’s Mission covers research, the student experience and internationalisation.
Research excellence is identified as a core activity that defines a world-class University and provides the best context for excellent teaching.
The student experience is about creating a varied, accessible and stimulating learning environment, which is capable of developing students’ knowledge, skills and employability.
Internationalisation is identified as key to success in terms of the quality of research and graduates.
The Learning and Teaching Strategy
→ Learning & Teaching Strategy
The strategy is divided into 3 main sections – Principles, Enacting the Principles, and Aims for 2007-2012. This is a useful document to explore, as it provides the organisational view of learning and teaching and indicates future developments. For ease of reference, the 8 main principles underpinning the strategy are listed below and could be used as a checklist for your own teaching.
Maintaining the highest academic standards, experiences and outcomes in all learning and teaching activities. Fundamental to this principle is the value the University places on research-led teaching and learning that enables students to creatively engage with new and exciting ideas.
Providing a high-quality learning environment for all staff and students, including the provision of teaching space, availability of new technologies, and access to a comprehensive range of learning materials. The University employs the highest quality staff to undertake teaching and support learning, and values the international and inter-cultural composition of the learning community.
Recognising diversity in the learning community as an important element of the richness of the University experience and as vital to the growth and development of individuals, both staff and students. The University supports individuals from a variety of backgrounds to enable them to enter higher education and to fulfil their potential.
Fostering and facilitating world-class excellence in learning and teaching through development, enhancement, research and reward. Key to further enhancement is the continued involvement of all students in participating in the management of teaching and providing feedback on the quality of learning and teaching.
Adopting a holistic approach to student progression which facilitates transition throughout degree programmes, onto research degree study and into graduate employment. The University not only provides academic support for each student; it is also concerned with the social and personal development of every student.
Focusing on the needs of the postgraduate student population to ensure that its specific requirements are met in a manner appropriate to a research-led institution, and that graduates from postgraduate programmes have the full range of skills for a leadership role in their future careers.
Providing an international education to students from around the world, and giving all students a wealth of opportunities to gain from different cultures and different perspectives.
Striving to make best use of the resources available for learning and teaching to maximise the benefits for both staff and students.
The strategy identifies the main areas for future development which might provide you with ideas about what you will aim to achieve in some of your teaching sessions:
Establish the University of Nottingham as a leading global university for learning and teaching
Provide graduates of the University of Nottingham with skills and experience that maximise their employability
Give research students a central position within the University community and practice
Widen participation in the University from among sectors of the population that are currently under-represented in higher education
Make full use of new learning and teaching technologies as they emerge to benefit students and staff
Disseminate and apply innovations in learning and teaching effectively
Increase further the efficiency of learning and teaching arrangements to maximise the impact of resources on the student experience
→ Quality Manual
The Quality Manual is a web based document which is available to both staff and students. It aims to act as a central source of information for polices and procedures which support the University in its aim to assure the quality of its learning, teaching and supervision. The Quality Manual is the first point of reference for questions about the organisation and quality assurance of teaching.
Related to the Quality Manual is the Good Practice Guide which is designed to disseminate good practice at the University, identified in, amongst other things, University Quality Audit reports and course review reports.
The Teaching Year
Details of term and semester dates are available on the About Nottingham website. Further details of the teaching year are available at the timetabling website. In these documents you can check the start and end dates of terms and semesters, examination and re-sit dates, holiday dates for your students, teaching weeks for your students and graduation dates.
The teaching year begins with the start of autumn and ends the following spring, and is divided into terms and semesters.
A term is a largely continuous period of teaching-related activities, and the teaching year at Nottingham is divided into autumn, spring and summer terms. Each term is about 3 months long and separated by holidays. Terms, along with holidays and examination periods. exist within the structure of semesters
An academic year contains two semesters and three terms, and is approximately 30-32 weeks long. At Nottingham, the academic year is divided into two semesters of about 15 weeks each of teaching, learning and assessment. The first is the Autumn Semester; the second is the Spring Semester.
Brief guide to teaching on modules
You might find yourself teaching modules designed by someone else. As well as the content of the module, you will probably have been given paperwork with learning outcomes and assessment methods already set. Even if you can’t - or don’t want to - make changes, it’s helpful to know where your teaching fits within a programme structure (sometimes called a ‘course’).
Every programme has set goals for student learning (known as learning outcomes) which are set at threshold level (see diagram). These are written by the programme team in the School, and supported by a logical system where each module has its own learning outcomes which act as the building blocks for the programme.
Teaching methods need to help students achieve these goals, and the assessments that you use need to test students on them. It’s worth looking at what other modules make up the programme, and how colleagues teach, to see how your teaching complements or supports them.
Schools manage programmes by periodically reviewing them, known as curriculum review. How well your module fits into an overall programme might be considered at this time. If changes need to be made to how a module runs before then, it’s usually done by the colleague in charge of that module (Module Convenor), who has to plan up to an academic year ahead.