Teaching Institute Keynote: Denise Chalmers


Recognizing and rewarding excellent teaching: yes it's hard and yes it can be done

Monday, August 19, 2019 (10:15 a.m. - Noon)
Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) L1-190

Universities continue to struggle with recognising and rewarding excellent teaching, despite over 30 years of exhortations that we should. All universities want their students to have a successful and positive learning experience. Fewer universities consider that rewarding and recognising teaching is critical to achieving this. But how and what to recognise and reward is just as critical. What is excellent teaching and how can universities build a culture to achieve and sustain it?

There is a growing focus on the quality of higher education teaching. There are questions from governments about the quality of teaching in universities and a desire to identify indicators of quality and excellence. Universities recognise they need to reward excellent teaching better but continue to struggle in identifying how to achieve it. In Australia, as elsewhere, universities have been working towards clarifying their criteria and expectations as to what constitutes excellent teaching, as well as clarifying their research and service expectations and criteria. They are reviewing their policies and practices to enable their teachers to access development and support to build quality practices and to provide a pathway for teachers to be rewarded through promotion, with a number of universities now promoting their excellent teachers to professor level.

This presentation will provide an overview of the work that is taking place in Australia on defining criteria and standards for excellence in teaching, research and service, and with the goal of making an impact on students' learning and engagement. However, these on their own are not sufficient to achieve lasting change if they are not embedded into institutional systems and processes and monitored using powerful indicators of impact. Strategic academic leadership at different levels within the university is required if a whole-of-institution culture change is to be achieved.

Related Resources
Chalmers, D. Recognising and rewarding teaching: Australian teaching criteria and standards and expert peer review

Chalmers D., & Hunt, L. (2016). Evaluating teaching. HERSDA Review of Higher Education, 3, p 25-55. http://herdsa.org.au/herdsa-review-higher-education-vol-3/25-55

Chalmers, D., & Tucker, B (2018). A national strategy for teaching excellence - one university at a time (Chapter 7) In Broughan, C., Steventon, G., & Clouder, L (Eds) Global Perspectives on Teaching Excellence: A new era for Higher Education. London: Taylor and Francis Books.

Denise Chalmers

Denise Chalmers, Professor Emeritus in the field of higher education teaching and learning at the University of Western Australia, was awarded an OLT National Senior Teaching Fellowship on recognising and rewarding university teaching in 2015 and an Australian Award for University Teaching: Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning in 2014. In 2017 she was awarded Life membership by HERDSA.

She has over 25 years demonstrated leadership in higher education, leading two university Centres of Teaching and Learning as Director and was a Foundation Director of the Carrick Institute (later ALTC) with responsibility for Awards, Fellowships and International Links. She has served as President and then as Vice President of the Council of Australian Directors of Academic Development (CADAD) 2008-2014. She is President of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA). She has initiated and led several institutional, national and international initiatives and projects including developing and embedding teaching quality criteria and indicators and promoting the use of teaching and learning performance indicators to guide decision making and resource allocation.