Category Archives: Academic Life

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…..


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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

Is it Welcome Week already ?

As a lecturer in the School of MACE, my work routine is very much organised around the academic year.  From my office in the Pariser building I have observed the ebb and flow of the student population for several years now.  Between September and June the campus is a hive of activity; students and staff striding purposefully across North Campus, huge numbers of emails, frequent visitors to the office, teaching and marking deadlines to meet.  And then shortly after the end of June everything calms down, time seems to slow, and Sackville Street empties as the majority of the student population (excepting Management of Projects and postgraduate research students, of course) leaves Manchester to enjoy the summer break.  You might be forgiven for thinking that lecturers too enjoy an extended summer holiday – at least this is what much of the general population seems to believe.  Continue reading Is it Welcome Week already ?