In its report of the Institutional Audit of Brookes in 2005, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) expresses broad confidence in the soundness of our management of the academic quality of our programmes. It identifies particular areas of good practice, citing the support we give to our postgraduate research students, our online Personal Information Portal (PIP), our accessibility and support for students and its underpinning through the information provided to staff by Student Services, and the themed audits undertaken by the Academic Policy and Quality Unit (APQU). The report goes on to recommend a number of areas for action including further development of our approaches to dissemination of good practice across the institution, more strategic approaches to the use and analysis of statistical data within review and decision-making processes, as well as review of assessment procedures.
We hope that BeJLT contributes to meeting some of the concerns raised. It is quickly becoming established as an important vehicle for dissemination of good practice in Brookes and to the world outside, practice for which there is evidence of effectiveness. It also encourages reflection on data that is available to gauge the effectiveness of our practice and to inform future development of our approaches to learning, teaching and assessment.
In this issue, for example, Keith Cooper writes about the development of Personal Development Planning (PDP) nationally and at Brookes, showing the thinking and the development processes that have led to our current approaches in this area. PIP is a core element of our support for PDP.
Kate Williams and Paul Catley describe an approach to supporting students who are required to resit examinations. Its effectiveness should encourage others to devise similar practice. This is a good example of how scrutiny of data available to us can prompt changes in practice and enhancement of the learning experience we offer. We should identify issues both for celebration or concern from the rich source of data that routine monitoring and evaluation of programmes brings and use it as evidence of effective practice or as evidence of improvement when new approaches are adopted in response to concerns.
Alison Le Cornu, Helen Cameron, Emma Catling, Tom Cosgrove and Elaine Langford provide an account of their experiences in developing distance learning approaches that complement the full-time delivery of a programme of study. They reflect on the complexity of the student learning experience and the different facets that contribute to it and offer the knowledge, understanding and skills they have developed to others who may be encouraged to work in this area.
George Roberts provides his personal insights in the complex area of e-portfolios and shares his experiences and outcomes from his research in an area that is of rapidly growing prominence in our thinking about how learning achievements may be demonstrated and assessed. . .for our students and as a record of our own development.
Katy Newell Jones provides insights into the global dimensions of higher education in the 21st century and the challenges and opportunities we face. She shows how the development of communities of practice can be instrumental in facilitating and disseminating understanding. Developing communities of practice is also an important element of the work of Berry O’Donovan, Jude Carrol, Margaret Price and Chris Rust. In this issue, they share the conceptual frameworks which underpinned their successful bid to establish a Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CETL), Assessment Standards Knowledge exchange (ASKe), and the work they are undertaking to promote good practice in developing and raising awareness of assessment standards and ensuring that assessment is ‘for’ learning and not simply ‘of’ learning.
This fourth issue of BeJLT again reflects the diversity of interests and developmental work in learning and teaching at Brookes. It also demonstrates the important role BeJLT can play as a vehicle for disseminating information, sharing insights and raising awareness – and its potential for reporting on lessons learned from evaluation of the data we routinely generate and the impact of consequent actions. It is to this latter area particularly that we should give emphasis – in light of the comments from the QAA audit but also because it provides evidence for our ongoing enhancement of the students’ learning experience.
Chair BeJLT Editorial Committee
Head of Learning and Teaching Development