7. Teaching: Support Services for Staff
Teaching excellence at the University of St Andrews has long been acknowledged through UK-wide peer review processes. These processes have developed over time and the Quality Enhancement Framework (QEF) now forms the basis for monitoring quality in Higher Education in Scotland. Further information about the QEF can be found in section 5 of this handbook.
Teaching at St Andrews is characterised by a commitment to deliver a current, research-informed curriculum delivered by academic staff who are leading scholars and researchers in their specialist disciplines. The consistent and excellent peer rating (as evidenced by RAE in 2001 and 2008) of St Andrews' research facilitates this goal. St Andrews was among the top ten UK universities for research; achieved the best results in Scotland; had all of its academic schools ranked as being of international status; and had 72% of its academic staff ranked in the highest category.
Teaching is offered primarily in traditional formats including large group lectures, seminars and small group tutorials, laboratory and other practical classes, and field work. A range of innovations have also been introduced to deliver teaching more flexibly, including:
- Continuous investment of e-resources for staff and students for learning, teaching and research
- Use of the Moodle as the University's centrally-supported virtual learning environment, with the on-going development of providing a managed learning environment by further integration with University systems
- The Evening Degree Programme, with lectures delivered in the evenings for those unable to participate in day-time study
- The introduction of distance learning courses in, e.g. Divinity, International Relations, Philosophy, Psychology
- Considerable investment in wireless technology
- Introducing the availability of copyright licensed materials online via Moodle, e.g. short loan (joint venture between Library and CAPOD)
- The Medical School's use of their in-house online course management system, GALEN, to complement the traditional delivery of the medical curriculum
- Computer Science's Module Management System (MMS).
Members of academic staff take individual responsibility for their own continuous professional development in both their subject specialism and the skills needed for communicating that specialist knowledge to students as effectively as possible. However, the University also provides a range of support for staff in this academic and teaching role through the Centre for Professional, Organisational and Professional Development (CAPOD).
Teaching support for students with disabilities is provided primarily by increasing the awareness of academic staff and tutors/demonstrators about good practice in supporting such students. The University of St Andrews Disability Equality Scheme was created in 2006 to aid this. It is expected that students will find the staff in this University committed to assisting students in whatever way they can. The Alternative Format Suite can provide teaching materials in formats suited to a students' disability. All of these activities are coordinated through School Disabilities Coordinators, whose role is to liaise with academic colleagues and specialist central support services.
Further information on how each of these units or services helps teaching staff to deliver an up-to-date curriculum that is part of a research-led learning environment for a diverse, multi-cultural student population can be found below.
CAPOD is the University's Centre for Academic, Professional & Organisational Development. The unit provides support for academic staff in a variety of ways, e.g.
- Academic Staff Development Programme (ASDP)
- Workshops on Moodle (introductory and advanced, one-to-one sessions, specific Moodle tools)
- Strategic Enhancement of Learning Fund (SELF)
- Funding for Initiatives in Learning, Teaching and Assessment (FILTA)
- Funding for external staff development courses with respect to learning and teaching
- Academic monitoring and review procedures - through the annual academic monitoring process and periodic Internal Review of Learning and Teaching.
- Workshops for postgraduate tutors, e.g. Introduction to Tutoring and Assessment, Academic Misconduct and optional modules
A second strand of CAPOD's work aims to support the institution in building leadership, developing management skills and creating a positive, productive work environment. Within the context of the overall University Strategy, the team aims to provide excellent support for the personal and professional development of all university staff. As well as the ASDP, CAPOD runs an open course programme on a range of topics, as well as creating bespoke events for teams or role-specific groups. They also contribute to a number of Institution-wide projects and offer advice, education and consultancy for members of staff interested in individual growth or team development.
The Library at St Andrews dates back to the early 17th Century and over the years has collected over one million volumes to support teaching, learning and research. Although still retaining excellent print-based collections, the the focus of collection activity has switched to electronic books, journals and datasets to enable easier internet access to these resources. Library staff are available to help academic staff locate the material they need to support their teaching and research activities. The Library also holds extensive and rich Special Collections which include manuscripts, photographs and early printed books.
IT Services provides a comprehensive computer service to all staff and students. It sets up user accounts, provides service via the IT Service Desk and offers training in computer software. It also provides support for users with special needs through assistive technologies and the Alternative Format Suite. It also stocks computer consumables such as paper, pen drives, printer cartridges, etc.
The University boasts a state-of-the-art Alternative Format Suite. Teaching materials can be provided in alternative forms, on request, in a form suited to a student's disability e.g., Braille, Audio and Large Print etc. Contact: Paresh Raval, email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01334 462774.
Information on disability and dyslexia is available on the University website. Support for teaching along with a list of School Disability Coordinators can be found.