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In summer 2019, CIT received approval from the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education for a project entitled 'EAT-PD: Enabling Academic Transitions through Professional Development' as part of the Strategic Alignment of Teaching and Learning Enhancement Funding in Higher Education Call 2019.

The EAT-PD initiative took a strategic approach to professional development for two staff groups instrumental in Teaching & Learning Enhancement – Early Career Lecturers and Senior Staff.

  • For Early Career Lecturers, EAT-PD presented the opportunity to develop and reflect on a range of research-based teaching strategies and confidently apply these in a range of learning settings. This semester-long programme was facilitated by colleagues in the Teaching and Learning Unit. The success of this pilot programme over three semesters resulted in the EAT-PD: Enabling Academic Transitions through Professional Development Programme for early career lecturers being main schemed as an annual offering for new and early career lecturers at MTU.
  • For Senior Staff, EAT-PD provided a year-long professional development programme of masterclasses, transformation projects and coaching opportunities focussing on the ‘Future of Higher Education in a Changing World’. This programme was externally facilitated by Advance HE and Kaleidoscope Coaching. This strand of EAT-PD contributed to MTU’s success in receiving €1million of Performance Funding from the HEA and is informing the strand of work relating to Distributed and Transformational Leadership Development.

There was significant impact on the learning and teaching practices for our Early Career Lecturers, and Senior Staff benefitted from AdvanceHE’s recognised leadership development programme and executive coaching during the initiative – hear more about the programmes and participant experiences in this short, summary clip:

MTU’s approach to academic development and its Coaching/Mentoring culture have shaped and been shaped by these two successful programmes. Participants’ feedback acknowledged how the programmes supported our vision that distributed leadership and progressive relationships at every level count.

What was learnt as part of the initiative?

In both programmes, we have identified that relationships and leadership really do matter.

Both programmes set out to create spaces in which participants could bring their ‘whole self’ to the area of development in focus. This was made significantly harder in the COVID-19 environment and so in order to foster the culture, we worked hard to provide social/connecting spaces for participants at the start of all sessions drawing on Peter Felten’s work around ‘relentless welcome’ and applying this student learning to our professional development programmes.

  • In the case of the Early Career Lecturer setting, we saw an increase in engagement during the 3rd iteration by applying these techniques resulting in a stronger connection of the participants, which fed through into their microteaching / peer observations.
  • The use of small group transformation / change projects in the Senior Staff Masterclasses provided a way in which participants could apply the learning from the workshops and apply the leadership skills into local settings. We would alter the guidance for these projects if running a similar programme again to place even more emphasis on the application of working through a process (leadership) as well as reaching a defined outcome to report back to the wider group. The extension of our Masterclass Webinar series to all senior staff proved very positive in widening the reach and impact of the programme across the University and provided an opportunity to engage far more colleagues in discussions than would have been possible as part of the core offering. This series drew engagement from the MTU Executive, in particular the attendance of MTU President, Professor Maggie Cusack, who attended and contributed to all webinars.

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