Reflection & professional development
Utrecht University strives for excellent teachers who improve and innovate their courses (Utrecht Education model). Developing yourself professionally as a teacher thus is important. If you take time to reflect on your teaching, alone or with others, teaching becomes easier and more enjoyable. If you attend workshops on education or qualification tracks, (like BKO, SKO or LOL) you not only develop your teaching competencies, but also meet like-minded colleagues and thus develop your network.
There are many ways to develop yourself professionally as a teacher. Usually a distinction is made between formal and informal ways of learning, and between methods you deploy on your own and methods practices with other teachers. These distinctions should not be considered as strict categories, but rather as two continuums on which methods to develop yourself professionally can be scaled:
At Utrecht University, teaching qualifications play an important role in academic careers of staff (Richtlijn Onderwijs UU). Teaching qualifications at Utrecht University include:
More information about these teaching qualifications and other courses on offer can be found at the Centre of Academic Teaching.
A useful way to learn from colleagues, is peer consultation. In peer consultation, teachers share dilemmas, questions or reflect on difficult teaching situations. In a structured ways, colleague teachers collectively analyze the problem and share multiple possible solutions. Some faculties organize peer consultation sessions for teachers. If this is not the case in your own faculty, consider starting a peer consultation group yourself. It does not take much effort, and teachers participating in peer consultation have often found it very helpful! To facilitate the consultation you can use this basic model for intervision [in Dutch].
Another way to develop yourself as a teacher, is by having your teaching observed by a colleague who then provides constructive feedback on strengths or possible areas for development. You can consider asking a senior faculty member to observe, an educational expert, or a peer teachers. In the latter case of peer observation, the observation can be both valuable for the one who is being observed as well as for the one who is observing. If you cannot find colleagues within your own faculty to organize peer observation, consider observation by someone from outside your faculty. Often teachers find these cross-faculty peer observations most useful. The Centre of Academic teaching now offers a Peer Observation Programme where two lecturers observe each other’s teaching practice to learn from both observing and being observed. The participants will be guided on observing as well as how to handle received feedback for the quality of education.
Exchange with other teachers and educational experts
Apart from the formal teaching qualifications Utrecht University has on offer, there are many other opportunities to build your knowledge on specific educational topics, exchange ideas with other teachers and educational experts, and learn from good practices developed elsewhere at the university. Consider for example:
- The short courses and workshops offered by Educational Consultancy and Professional Development or CAT
- Yearly meetings on education, like Onderwijsparade and Teaching and learning lab
- Joining one of the Special Interest Groups of CAT
- Other meetings of CAT or TAUU
- Ask an educational expert for advice through a professional consult
Having a conversation with your students about what actually helps them in their learning can be very valuable. At this site you can find helpful feedback instruments to use for starting this conversation [in Dutch].
Reading about teaching and learning can also be a good way of developing yourself professionally as a teacher. This educational database for example is a good start! In the database you will find links and references to other literature. Also consider the teacher community TAUU website. Obviously, there is much literature in the library and on the internet on (higher) education. The Centre for Academic Teaching possess a book collection in the University Library at the Utrecht Science Parc. If you are looking for a particular topic, consider consulting the experts of Educational Consultancy and Professional Development who will be able to provide you with helpful references.
Learning by doing often is a very strong type of learning; learning by innovating your teaching and reflecting on it; alone, with your students and/or with colleagues. Utrecht University stimulates educational innovation by offering different types of support, from educational advice for individual teachers to funding for larger innovation project.
Investigating your own teaching is a good way to get more insight into the learning of students. It is a way to develop yourself in a systematic, research-informed way. This approach is known under the name of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). More about SoTL can be learned in a training programme on Educational research and in the SIG SoTL.