Get prepared for the TEF

Cengage’s Andrew Robinson argues that the UK’s HE sector can best prepare for TEF via a digital route

The Teaching Excellence Framework – which will see the government monitoring and assessing the quality of teaching and learning in UK universities – will have a big impact on university funding, so it’s vital that HEIs are prepared.

In the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework – Technical Consultation for Year 21, the three defining aspects of quality for which UK universities are to be monitored and assessed include:

·      Teaching Quality: teaching practices which provide an appropriate level of contact, stimulation and challenge, encourage student effort and engagement, and which are effective in developing the knowledge, skills, attributes and work readiness of students.

·      Learning Environment: the wider context for teaching which includes the effectiveness of resources designed to support learning, maximise completion, and aid the development of independent study and research skills. This may include learning spaces, use of technology, work experience, extra-curricular activities and opportunities for peer-to-peer interaction.

·      Student outcomes and learning gain: the educational and employment outcomes of graduates and the gains made by students from a range of different backgrounds.

Those universities deemed ‘excellent’ in all areas will be rewarded with the right to increase undergraduate fees in line with inflation, currently sitting at 2%.

Mock TEF studies are now complete but the final metrics to measure TEF are yet to be finalised. So how should universities prepare?

Digital learning can also support students by allowing them to revisit specific concepts that may not have been fully understood during a lesson

My advice to HEIs would be to review investment in digital learning solutions which typically include assessment and feedback tools as well as data and analytics on student performance. Such solutions provide teaching staff with clear insight into student progress and equip them with the information they need to deliver highly targeted teaching.

Digital learning can also support students by allowing them to revisit specific concepts that may not have been fully understood during a lesson.  Content can be mapped to specific courses and personalised to include the lecturers’ own materials. This enriches the learning experience and frees up teaching staff, allowing them to spend more quality time with students.

The HEPI Student Academic Survey2 concluded that although the student experience is still a positive one, students as consumers are becoming more demanding. They are looking for evidence of value for money and are prepared to put in the effort themselves as long as they feel this is matched by being offered an involved experience with high-quality teaching staff who continuously develop their skills, and appropriate levels of contact hours for the subject they choose.  Digital learning solutions can go a long way to helping HEIs achieve this.

1 – Teaching Excellence Framework – Technical Consultation for Year 2 – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/523340/bis-16-262-teaching-excellence-framework-techcon.pdf
2 – The HEPI Student Academic Survey   – https://www.hepi.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Student-Academic-Experience-Survey-2016.pdf

Andrew Robinson is Director of Higher Education EMEA at Cengage Learning