Evidence-based practice at Faculty level

Members of the Learning and Teaching Academy presented at the Faculty of Science, Health and Engineering’s faculty planning day on Tuesday 31 May as part of a session exploring the use of data and evidence with academic and managerial staff. This was a trial of an evidence-based approach, in which planning decisions made at Faculty level draw upon the expertise of staff – and data – from across different areas of the university.

Heather Fotheringham from the LTA spoke about students’ perceptions as evidenced through the National Student Survey and the end of module surveys, and how we can use student feedback to inform our learning and teaching provision. Further context was given by Janet Hackel (Student Records Office) who outlined the profile of our students and our courses, and how we can better understand our student demographic through enrolment data. Nicola Smith (Careers and Employability Centre) spoke about graduate destinations and gave useful insights into the skills and attributes sought by potential employers.

The session was closed by Professor Keith Smyth, Head of the LTA, who spoke about how the use of technology can enhance the student experience by encouraging increased learner choice and autonomy in individual and collaborative learning. Keith drew upon examples from an evidence-based framework for implementing technology-enhanced learning, which has been used across various institutions and discipline areas.


The Faculty event itself was ‘evidence-based’ in two senses:

  1. Evidence from different sources was used to highlight and prioritise areas for the development of learning, teaching, and student engagement
  2. Evidence was drawn on to identify methods to address these areas

It may seem that this kind of approach is obvious; who doesn’t want their decisions to be made on the basis of relevant evidence? But it is only when the relevant people are drawn together, and the evidence made available, that this process can occur effectively.

Thinking about being ‘evidence-based’ within the context of the Learning and Teaching Academy, an important aim going forward is to make the range of ways in which we can become evidence-based with respect to educational practice more visible and accessible to colleagues across the university. This involves providing opportunities for colleagues to share what they have found to be effective within their own contexts, for example through the LTA Connect series of webinars or the ALPINE framework. It also extends to supporting educational research and evaluation projects, including through LTA Scholarships and the work beginning to be taken forward through the Learning lab at An Lòchran. As the activities of the Learning and Teaching Academy continue to develop, in tandem with initiatives like the implementation of a new learning and teaching strategy for the university, we will be looking to expand the evidence base that we have to draw upon in informing effective educational practice, policy, scholarship and research.

Heather Fotheringham





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