Exploring how subject specific CPD impacts teaching and learning approaches for students

How can tutors implement actionable teaching strategies from their allocated self-directed study days?

About the project

What is the project about?

Exploring how subject specific CPD impacts teaching and learning approaches for students

Within the Skills for Jobs White Paper, the government promotes the provision of high-quality professional development to improve the quality of teaching through staff accessing the latest expertise in industry. The paper acknowledges that staff are not always able to access professional development opportunities they need to improve their practice which impacts the quality and retention of teaching staff in the sector. However, at Suffolk New College, we have already provided staff with 5 self-directed study days in which they are encouraged to focus on development of content knowledge as part of the Suffolk New College’s Professional Development and Review Strategy 2021. 

This may involve spending time in industry updating skills, back to floor days, subject based research, visiting other colleges or other relevant agreed activity. The use of the 5 self-directed study days is discussed in professional practice performance reviews which encourage staff to consider how the activity/learning has contributed to their work performance. Whilst this is positive and contributes to some degree of the white paper’s initiatives, I feel there is still further scope in evaluating the impact of the self-directed study days and quantifying them into actionable teaching strategies. 

Aims and desirable outcomes

Suffolk New College’s policy allows staff members to engage with 5 days of self-directed study activity each academic year. For many staff members this happens throughout the year by attending courses, training sessions, updating industry qualifications or volunteering in sector businesses. Whilst it has been encouraged by the organisation for staff to engage with sector CPD to maintain their skills set there has been less investigation conducted into the direct impact this has on student experience, learning or achievements. From discussion with colleagues and in my own experience I believe that subject specific CPD most likely does have a positive impact on students but it would be difficult to identify exactly where and how this could be evidenced other than a holistic experience. My hypothesis is that if tutors can make explicit connections between their own subject specific CPD knowledge gains and the mechanisms they use to impart this knowledge to students, then we can improve the employability skills of students that underpins the Skills for Jobs white paper

How is the impact of the project being measured?

Charlie Simmans on what is happening

Using the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development’s CPD model, I will be asking for a minimum of 2 volunteers from each directorate at SNC to participate in the project. This should give a balanced overview of the different industries that the organisation associates with and support the quality team in identifying if there are differences in subject specific engagement.

I will ask the volunteer sample to complete a google form that is split into 7 stages over the 15 weeks. The 7 stages are as follows:

  1. Identify: Understand where you’ve come from (what you knew before the subject specific CPD) where you are (what you know after the session) and where you want to be (How will you now share this learning/experience with your students)
  2. Plan: Plan how you can get to where you want to be, with clear outcomes and milestone to track progress.
  3. Act: Act upon your plan, and be open to learning experiences.
  4. Reflect: Make the most of your day-to-day learning by routinely reflecting upon experience.
  5. Apply: Create opportunities where you can translate theory into practice and put your learning to work.
  6. Share: Share your learning in communities of practice to generate greater insight and benefit from the support of your community.
  7. Impact: Measure the overall impact your learning has had on the work you do.

The google form will act as my data and I will use my coaching skills to support staff in working through the CIPD model. The Apply stage (number 5) directly relates to the actionable teaching strategies within the research question and has been allocated 4 weeks of the project timeline for me to work with staff on this. The stages prior and after this will be used to support staff in identifying, planning and reflecting the use of the teaching strategies. This can also be used with staff’s Professional Development Review with their line manager in June/July.

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