Teaching Excellence in the Disciplines

October 2016

Teaching Excellence in the Disciplines

This report examines the conceptions of ‘teaching excellence’ that obtain in different disciplines across the expanded and differentiated structure of UK higher education (HE). The report reviews relevant literature and presents evidence collected from university deans with responsibilities for different groupings of academic disciplines about the comparability of teaching quality across different disciplines and institutions.

The project on which this report is based was commissioned by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) to examine the extent to which disciplinary differences remain central to judgments about the quality or excellence of teaching in HE. The project’s aim was to investigate: the range, distinctiveness, balance and effectiveness of approaches to learning and teaching employed within different disciplinary groupings within UK higher education, and the impact these have on student learning outcomes.

Five research questions were posed and are addressed in this report. They are:
(i) What is the range and balance of pedagogic approaches employed by teaching staff
within their discipline?
(ii) What is considered to reflect excellent teaching in the disciplines?
(iii) How does this vary across disciplines and higher education providers?
(iv) Are there distinctive disciplinary or ‘signature’ pedagogies?
(v) Which pedagogic approaches are the most effective in terms of impact on defined
learning outcomes?

Client: Higher Education Academy

Authors: Andrea Abbas, Joan Abbas, Kira Brayman, John Brennan & Orkhon Gantogtokh

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