Category Archives: Academic Life

Finding my feet

One symptom of just how busy I have been over my first 8 months at Man Met Uni has been my neglect of my blogging.  I had great plans to continue my series of reflections as I began my new role at Man Met but these have been blown away by the speed at which I have had to learn to adapt to both a new Institution – full of new people, processes and ways of doing things – and to a new senior role.

So how has this last 8 months been and what have I learned that I could share with other academics in the same position?

Well,  its been a bit of a roller coaster to be honest.  I think I started well; I  made my primary focus that of building really good relationships with people and concentrating on two key maxims of leadership – enthusiasm and integrity (John Adair).  I made myself as visible as possible within the Faculty, built  my Education team within the first 2 months, aimed for a couple of quick wins and Chaired my first Faculty committees.  All of this was a massive learning curve; overwhelming at times but by focusing on each day in turn I made it to Christmas and then to Easter without any great mishaps or mis-steps. Continue reading Finding my feet

Grappling with management responsibilities in academia

This semester I came back from a refreshing and highly productive six month sabbatical to a maelstrom of teaching activity and my first proper management role within my department.  As is often the case within academia, the role was new and ill-defined.  It involves enhancing teaching quality (whatever that means)  across 40 undergraduate and postgraduate units delivered by 18 academics .  Three months in, I wanted to share some reflections on how I am adapting to my new management responsibilities.

In my view, management responsibilities in academia are akin to a medieval game of football.  There are few rules, many hundreds of players,  several often conflicting objectives,  and pretty ineffective levers of control.  So, here are some strategies for playing the game…..

the-middle-ages

Continue reading Grappling with management responsibilities in academia

Getting Started in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Once a year myself and a colleague deliver a session to participants in the New Academic’s Programme at The University of Manchester entitled “Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL)”.  Our aim in this session is to spark interest in  the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning as a valuable and legitimate scholarly activity.  The slides, which are available in Slideshare here, provide an overview of what SOTL is, how it is similar and yet subtly different to pedagogic research, and tools and techniques for getting started.  It is a resource that I wish had been available when I was starting my academic career and I hope it is useful to you as a means of reflecting on and improving your teaching practice in Higher Education today.

Marking, marking everywhere and not a moment to lose

My close family and friends know from experience that the last two weeks in November are my least favourite of the calendar year, closely followed by the last two weeks in January.  This is not due to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or the necessity to get organised for a big family Christmas.  Instead it is down to the stress induced by a massive marking load which falls year after year on these dates – November is assignment marking time and January exam marking time. Continue reading Marking, marking everywhere and not a moment to lose