Professional development opportunities – academic work

Opportunities for professional development exist within, through and beyond your own academic work. Scholarly activities, such as reading, discussing, and writing in your subject discipline, or about the teaching of your subject, are in themselves developmental on a personal and professional level, and we are very familiar with these activities. It is, however, helpful to consider wider opportunities to extend yourself.

What follows is a suggested list of activities and processes that colleagues have found beneficial in their own professional development, more inspiration can be found on the PETAL website.

Course design intensives operate at programme level and bring together expanded teams of academic staff, associate lecturers, learning technologists, librarians, students and educational developers with specialist expertise in order to rethink and redesign the curriculum. These transformational workshops have run successfully at Brookes since 2004. The CDI process is documented and illustrated on its internal website.

Classroom-based development, such as peer observation of teaching, may to you be an obvious activity to support you in improving in-class discussions, or your own presentation skills, in conversation with a colleague, there are many other activities you can consider.

Disciplinary, or interdisciplinary, networks and teaching development projects offer the opportunity to benchmark your own practices with that in other institutions, and also to extend your horizon beyond your own discipline. The comparison with others, and collaboration on joint endeavours can spark new and innovative approaches to developing your teaching. A good source to find out about teaching grants and prizes is the Higher Education Academy.

Informal mentoring and teaching observations can arise out of conversations with your colleagues about your own teaching. Positive student responses to a particular colleague, or your own curiosity, may prompt you to ask colleagues if you can observe them teaching in order to gain ideas about how you might develop yourself, or invite a trusted colleague to observe you and give feedback. Guidance on peer observation of teaching is available to support you in this.

Professional development or academic programmes are a way to prompt more systematic reflection on your overall practice. You may find interesting programmes offered by other organisations, with an increasing choice of online provision. There are also many professional development options available at Brookes, such as the PSF Pathway to Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, Coaching and Mentoring Programme, Chartered Manager Award or longer term programmes such as the Masters or Doctorate in Education.

Programme team or departmental awaydays and teaching and learning events are a chance to find out about internal outcomes from PETAL activities, or to meet speakers from other institutions or departments with ideas of new pedagogies or techniques that they have used successfully in their teaching.

Reviewing articles, joining the editorial board of academic journals or newsletters, organising conferences are great ways to maintain currency of your knowledge in your academic community. You will also develop your professional skills further in areas such as publishing, event management and leadership.

Special interest groups, such as Minerva, Tealab, ACO Forum or Learning Technology Forum, or community engagement groups provide places for a network of interested colleagues to meet and discuss relevant issues periodically. Becoming active in one of these special interest groups enables you to develop interests in a group setting, which many find more rewarding than individual pursuits.

Workshops and online courses, for example in project management, research supervision, teaching skills, bid-writing, and writing retreats are offered throughout the academic year, arranged both centrally and within your Faculty. The OCSLD website is a good place to find out about some of the centrally run courses. If you are unable to find what you are looking for, have a chat with your Faculty’s link developer, and let your reviewer know what you are interested in so that they can make enquiries on your behalf.


Updated September 2014