Standards framework for teaching and supporting student learning in HE

ALT response to August 2005 consultation by the Higher Education Academy


The Association for Learning Technology (ALT) makes the following brief response to the Higher Education Academy Consultation Paper: "A Standards Framework for Teaching and Supporting Student Learning". These should be read in the context of ALT's earlier response to Towards a Framework of Professional Teaching Standards - [100 kB PDF].

1. A substantial proportion of HE teaching takes place outside Universities. The repeated use of the word university in the tables on pages 9-11 really ought to be reconsidered.

2. Concerning the inclusion of "Use of appropriate learning technologies" as a core knowledge area, our preference would be for the phrase to be changed to "Appropriate use of learning technologies", because the former presumes that use of learning technologies will generally be appropriate, whereas the latter is more pedagogically focused.

3. Whatever formulation is adopted, ALT would see possession of CMALT as evidence relating to "Use of appropriate learning technologies" / "Appropriate use of learning technologies", at any of the three levels of the standards framework.

4. That said, we think that the phrase "Ability to understand how students experience the use of technologies to enhance their learning" fails to capture what a practitioner needs to know in order to make "Use of appropriate learning technologies" / "Appropriate use of learning technologies" in student-focused teaching. We think that a stronger phrase is needed and would be happy to assist the Academy in deciding one, which we think should derive from the ALT definition of learning technology.

5. The framework should seek more strongly to incorporate the notion of "working with others" to enhance their own practice. This is only lightly encapsulated by requiring evidence of "comparable practices, knowledge and experience" in the "examples of staff groups" in Standard 2. Student-focused learning. (It is also a key part of the CMALT scheme and may refer to collaboration/cooperative activity, staff development delivery, project team work, evaluation and/or dissemination.)

6. We are generally in favour of a single framework that can be used by both teaching staff and learning support/staff development staff. This would reflect areas of specialism for the different roles but preclude a "lessening" of the support staff role through Associate membership. The underlying rationale for this is that the advancement of HE teaching is both about the support of learning and the support of those that contribute. It is also about seeking continual improvement. We believe it is important and timely that the HE Academy promotes the relationship between staff that teach and staff that support teaching and learning as one of partnership not of "servicing" of one "full member" category of staff by another "second tier" category. We would continue to encourage a scheme that shows clear routes to full membership for staff who may support rather than undertake teaching and assessment.

Seb Schmoller

ALT Executive Secretary