Celebrating excellence

Many of our PCAP participants produce very high quality assignments, and the best of these go on to be used in blogs, conference papers and publications. Here are just some of our PCAP case study examples:

Moving from Belgium to Exeter, one of the first things that I noticed was the importance given to academic metrics in peer and departmental evaluations, and the influence of these to the allocation of resources and funding. I became more interested in the negative impacts of metrics as time went on both at the University of Exeter and in other academic institutions, and specifically interested in the potential side-effects of quantitative efforts to measure, rate and rank of various aspects of academia, in particular those related to individuals (e.g. personal h-index). I became progressively more attuned to the indirect effects of metrics on people’s morale, professional identity and workplace stress.

The flexible approach to assignment choice implemented by the PCAP programme allowed me to select this issue as my topic of study. Building on my existing research on the impact of quantitative indicators and language in international politics, I wrote a paper that theorises academic metrics within the broader logic of neoliberal government, in order to better identify and understand the impact of these metrics on academics’ perceptions, behaviours and identities. The results of a survey conducted among political scientists in the UK and Belgium was also used in order to further explore this impact. The PCAP assessors reported that they had enjoyed reading the piece and encouraged me to submit it for publication – which I did, after incorporating their feedback comments. The paper has now been accepted for publication in the journal Politics. A link to the article will be made available here in due course.

Dr Stephane Baele, Lecturer in International Relations, PCAP 2015-16

I taught throughout my Masters and PhD, prior to undertaking the PCAP course, so this was an ideal opportunity for me to reflect on my teaching practice and develop new skills and ideas. At the time I had led seminars for many years and was in my first full-time lecturing role so I wanted to focus on how best to engage students within – often large – lecturing environments. I used the PCAP assessments to learn more about the process of learning from academic literature and to reflect on my own experiences as a student. I became interested in how understanding and retention can be enhanced by alternating delivery modes and how different students can learn better from different ways of engaging with taught material. I particularly liked the concept of ‘active learning’ and in creating an environment where students are doing things with the material beyond simply listening. The PCAP classes were a great opportunity to learn from staff and fellow students about different teaching strategies that had worked for them across disciplines.

For one of my PCAP assessments I compiled a list of different activities that could be integrated into large lectures to help students interact with the material. I thought about emailing it to friends afterwards, as a set of ideas that may be useful for others who are newly appointed in lecturing roles, but realised that it could be of use more widely so published it as a series of blog posts. The first is on the importance of active learning, and the second is a set of ideas for making lectures more ‘active’. It was great to use the PCAP assessments as a springboard for contributing to debates on pedagogy.

I have since been nominated for a teaching award at the University of Exeter, and was shortlisted for ‘Innovative Tutor of the Year’ at Leeds Beckett University in 2016.

Dr Jess Gifkins, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Leeds Beckett University – PCAP 2014-2015

Exeter is my first real teaching experience and so the PCAP course has been incredibly useful in a number of ways. Most obviously it provides ideas on teaching methods, techniques and useful educational aids (including educational e-technologies). It has also really helped me to consider the bigger picture around the role of HE in society as well as the expectations of our students. Naturally, it was also a great way to network with colleagues from different disciplines who were new to lecturing to. 

When it came to the assessment requirements for the course, PCAP gave me the confidence to try a few different approaches to some of my modules. Doing this alongside PCAP was a great source of extra support and also gave me the tools to really consider how successful these approaches were. In reviewing this for my PCAP assessment it made sense to get this disseminated via peer reviewed outlets. Again, PCAP was very useful for getting the opinions of the experienced educationalists on the programme and this ultimately played a big part in the publication of my work. 

Robert Meertens, Lecturer for BSc Diagnostic Radiography – PCAP 2015
(Download: Utilisation of a peer assisted learning scheme in an undergraduate diagnostic radiography module)

Have you undertaken PCAP and used your assignment in a blog, presentation, or publication? Let us know. Email Karen Mattick: K.L.Mattick@exeter.ac.uk