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LSE sets new standards for teaching quality

The London School of Economics and Political Science is to invest an extra £2 million a year in teaching to ensure that standards match the high quality of its research.

LSE will recruit more lecturers, limit class sizes for Masters' students, strengthen its academic tutorial system and give students a better understanding of the support they can draw on. It will also better reward and encourage good teaching - for example by ensuring that all applicants for jobs and promotion can demonstrate their teaching expertise.

Photograph of a lecturerThe package of improvements has been drawn up by a teaching task force team, which comprised academics from a range of subject areas and a representative from the Students' Union. It consulted every part of LSE involved in teaching and learning, including student groups.

The review, similar to one carried out at Harvard University, was commissioned to raise the status of teaching at the School and satisfaction levels among students. The LSE Teaching Task Force made 40 recommendations, all of which have been accepted by an exceptionally well-attended special meeting of the Academic Board, a body which all academic staff are entitled to attend.

LSE Director Howard Davies said: 'Good teaching is vital to LSE's success. Our students expect excellence from us in every area and to meet those expectations we need to improve our teaching.

'We are famous for our world-class research and the quality of our teaching should be equally renowned. The sound proposals from the task force and the extra investment we are making in teaching will make sure we give it the importance and direction it needs.'

The task force's recommendations cover three main areas; improving the quality of teaching and academic support for students, supporting teachers and students and recognising and rewarding good teaching.

Photograph of studentsIt recognised that contact with permanent staff is a priority for students. The intention is that, except in exceptional cases, the maximum class size for Masters' classes will be set at 15, which is the current maximum for undergraduate classes.

The bulk of the extra money, £1.5 million has been set aside to employ about 25 more lecturers to ensure that class sizes can be reduced for the School's 4,000 Masters' students. The rest will be spent primarily on training and support for staff and students and for the encouragement of new technology in teaching.

The office hour will be refocused so that teachers concentrate on giving academic feedback and advice to students, directing them to other support staff for non-academic matters. Graduate Teaching Assistants, while highly valued, will normally only be used at Masters' level to supplement and support core teaching.

To support teachers the School will spend time and money on stimulating innovation, extending training and improving the accuracy and timeliness of feedback from students.

Good teaching will be better recognised and rewarded. All short-listed candidates for academic posts will have to produce evidence of their teaching skill and senior academics will observe the teaching performance of promotion applicants. LSE will also encourage more applications for financial bonuses to reward the best teachers.

The task force was led by Professor Janet Hartley, pro-director for teaching and learning. She will monitor progress made and report back to the Academic Board and LSE Council after three years.

Ends

For more information contact LSE Press Office 020 7955 7440


posted 17 July

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