Programme Approaches to Assessment and Feedback:
Case Studies, Commentaries and Tools (June 2017)

This collection of resources, and the accompanying website, contains case studies, commentaries and tools supporting the enhancement of assessment and feedback in Irish higher education programmes. The collection showcases the contribution of 31 staff and two students, from 14 national and five international institutions. The topics explored in this collection are organized under: the drivers of change; leading change; exploring the evidence for what’s going on; and ideas for enhancing programme assessment. The collection should be valuable to a range of stakeholders in higher education.

Transitions of International Students into Higher Education in Ireland (March 2017)

This briefing paper aims to supplement our knowledge on transitions into Irish higher education by exploring the knowledge and experiences of those who come to Ireland from other countries to study at Irish higher education institutions. It is based on a survey of 573 international students, across five higher education institutions, who studied in Ireland during 2015.

Recommendations from the ICT Retention Scoping Group (December 2016)

This briefing paper presents recommendations from the ICT Retention Scoping Group, convened by the National Forum in 2016 to consider how ICT retention in higher education could be improved across the sector. The group met over two full days and included representation from across the higher education sector.

Profile of Assessment Practices in Irish Higher Education (December 2016)

This report aims to inform the current enhancement theme of the National Forum by profiling documented assessment practices across a sample of 30 undergraduate degree programmes. Further, the study aims to explore whether and how assessment practices differ between fields of study and to share insights regarding students’ experiences of assessment across Irish higher education.

Reaching Out: Why Students Leave | Briefing Paper 1 (November 2016)

This briefing paper reports on a research project established by the National Forum in partnership with the Union of Students in Ireland, which aimed to inform our understanding of why some students do not progress to the completion of their programmes of study in higher education and to determine how best to support students in their transitions into and through higher education. The study examined, through surveys and interviews, the motivations and experiences of 331 students who did not complete their programmes of study in higher education. The briefing paper adds to the growing evidence base about the challenges that students face in their transitions into and through higher education in Ireland.

Transition From Further Education And Training To Higher Education (October 2016)

This report shares research which explores the transition experiences of those who undertake FET prior to entering higher education. The report combines new and existing data on Irish FET students’ transitions to higher education in order to further our understanding of the experiences of those who choose to embark on higher education following engagement with further education. It compares the transition experiences of FET students to those entering higher education directly from the Leaving Certificate and examines the effectiveness of FET programmes in preparing students to participate successfully in higher education.

National Professional Development Framework for All Staff Who Teach in Higher Education (September 2016)

This document describes the newly articulated National Professional Development Framework for all staff who teach in Irish higher education. The framework provides guidance for the professional development (PD) of individuals and gives direction to other stakeholders (e.g. institutions, higher education networks, educational/academic developers, policy makers and student body representatives) for planning, developing and engaging in professional development activities.

Understanding and Supporting the Role of Learning Technologists in Irish Higher Education (September 2016)

This briefing paper presents a summary of findings from a qualitative research project conducted by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (National Forum) exploring the role of learning technologists in supporting academic staff to enhance teaching and learning in Irish higher education.

A Conceptual Model for the Professional Development of those who Teach in Irish Higher Education: Report on the Findings of the Consultation Process (January 2016).

This report presents a conceptual model for professional development, based on the findings of a comprehensive national consultation process. It highlights the sector’s understanding of professional development, identifies some underlying values for the model and suggestions some teaching and learning domains for structuring the process. It presents some of the ideas and challenges for the model’s implementation and it concludes with some next steps in the professional development process.

A Snapshot Of Non-accredited Continuing Professional Development For Those Who Teach In Irish Higher Education (December 2015)

This is the third of three snapshot reports arising from the professional development consultation document: Mapping Professional Development Pathways for those who Teach in Higher Education. The purpose of these report is to provide focused in-depth coverage of key topics; accredited, non-accredited and disciplinary engagement with professional development.

The aim of this series of reports is to give readers the opportunity to delve selectively or comprehensively into the underpinning research and benchmarking activity that has informed the proposals and options outlined in the professional development consultation document. Based on structured data-gathering and analysis as well as active engagement with key personnel across the sector, these snapshot reports allow the current arrangements for professional development in Irish higher education to be described and interpreted further in the context of prevailing research literature. This report gives an overview of the non-accredited continuing professional development (CPD) activity currently delivered across the sector.

The National Forum has published a new focused research report A Current Overview of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in Irish Higher Education.

This report details an exploration of the current practice relating to the recognition of prior learning in Irish higher education. The research includes a review of the published policies of higher education institutions, their public-facing information as well as an analysis of the details of the mission-based performance compacts outlining goals and objectives for higher education institutions from 2014 to 2016.

In-depth interviews with practitioners in higher education institutions were conducted to explore the implementation of RPL in practice. An exploration of processes relating to identification, evidencing, assessment, and recognition of experiential learning by selected employer professional bodies was undertaken.

The National Forum has published a Briefing Paper on Non-Completion on ICT Programmes.

This report is based on findings from a National Forum-funded research project on student non-completion on ICT programmes led by a team based at the University of Limerick.

The Paper summarises international literature on student non-completion with a focus on students of ICT ; it outlines proven initiatives and pedagogic practices designed to tackle ICT student non-completion and it presents the results of exploratory case study research on ICT non-completion at the University of Limerick. It also includes further considerations arising specifically from the institutional case study as well as those arising more generally from the question of non-completion in the Irish context.

Reaching Out: Why Students Leave Briefing Paper 2 (2015)

During 2014/15 the Union of Students (USI) in Ireland, in partnership with the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, undertook a pilot research project to explore students’ experiences of higher education.

Teaching for Transitions: A Review of Teaching for Transitions Related Teaching and Learning Activity and Research

The National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning commissioned this study of scholarship that focuses on ‘Teaching for Transitions’, with particular reference to higher education in Ireland. An international element was included to allow some benchmarking with national scholarship. The question ‘how can this scholarship be more impactful on the practice of teachers in the higher education sector?’ was a key question of interest in the project. Part 1 of the study is reported here. It sets out early results and insights and makes recommendations based on investigations carried out between January and June 2015. It raises questions for further investigation.

A Snapshot of International & National Disciplinary Initiatives for Enhancing Teaching & Learning (October 2015)

This report provides an overview of the activities of disciplinary and network groups and their approaches to the enhancement of teaching and learning arising from a series of Forum Partnership Dialogues. It also places these activities in the wider context of international practices for supporting disciplinary enhancement.

A Snapshot of Accredited Professional Development Provision in Irish Higher Education (October 2015)

The first of three snapshot reports arising from the professional development consultation: “Mapping professional development pathways for those who teach in higher education; Where are we now and where do we want to go?’.
This first Snapshot report presents an overview  of the existing accredited professional development (APD) provision in Ireland. It documents the programmes that are on offer, outlines their level and associated credits. In addition a qualitative analysis has been completed on the programme and modular learning outcomes of all identified provision to determine the knowledge, skills and competency development currently incorporated into teaching and learning accredited programmes across the sector. The outcome of this analysis provides an excellent foundation for informing a national professional development framework.  This first report comes in two parts. Part One profiles the different programmes identified including, level, associated ECTS credits, mode of delivery, recognition of prior learning (RPL), support offered to participants and numbers graduating from these programmes nationally. The report’s second part provides a qualitative analysis of (i) the programme objectives and (ii) the associated modular learning outcomes to identify the key aspects of the provision. Finally a comparison of the intended modular learning outcomes and the programme objectives is provided.

Transition From Second Level And Further Education To Higher Education (August 2015)

This project is a case study of the experiences of students in the transition to higher education drawn from four higher education institutions, Trinity College Dublin, Limerick Institute of Technology, Mary Immaculate College and University of Limerick. The aims of the project were to review the ways in which students are best prepared to participate successfully in higher education and to make the transition from second and further education to a higher education learning context. The study involved a high level review of the literature relating to transitions internationally, as well as literature specific to the Irish higher education context. A survey of students was undertaken, which generated 1,579 responses and ten focus groups were conducted across the four institutions (pp19-23). It provides a valuable insight to the process of transition from students’ perspectives highlighting a number of areas for development as well as indicating good practices which are currently effective and should be extended further.

Why Students Leave: Findings From Qualitative Research Into Student Non-completion In Higher Education In Ireland (July 2015)

This project reports on a systematic survey of existing qualitative data on student non-completion gathered by 16 Irish higher education institutions, including Universities, Institutes of Technology and HECA Colleges. The findings of the current qualitative study identified five core themes which are significant in terms of student non-completion: course, personal, financial, medical/health and family. Of these five, course was the strongest influencing factor. Importantly the study calls for a more positive interpretation of non-completion as part of the wider context of students’ career and programme plans. It also suggests that developing systematic and standardised institutional approaches to qualitative data gathering on students who leave will help enhance institutional and policy responses for the future. This study also helps to inform the forthcoming HEA Report 2015 A Study of Progression in Irish Higher Education Institutions 2012/13 2013/14, a quantitative analysis.

Mapping Existing Research Output Focused on Higher Education Teaching and Learning in Ireland 1990-2015 (July 2015)

This project, a systematic review of teaching and learning research in Irish higher education and marks the first study of its kind nationally. Using a recognised analytical framework (Tight, 2012) it analyses the key features and themes of teaching and learning research in Ireland. It provides an excellent overview of the Irish teaching and learning research field, including key areas of inquiry and key contributing disciplines and institutions. As a result, it offers enormous potential to future researchers and institutions by identifying areas which may be under-researched and directing attention towards those areas of research which could offer rich insights on matters of learning impact.

Learning Resources and Open Access in Higher Education Institutions in Ireland (July 2015)

This report provides a considered account of some of the key issues which influence the sharing of open educational resources. These include questions of awareness and understanding of open educational resources at individual as well as institutional level, and the value placed on openness as a positive incentive for academic engagement. Acknowledging the complex interplay between these factors, the study suggests important practical steps to take forward OER engagement, including: awareness raising; professional development for academic staff; capturing excellent OERs and continuing relevant and targeted research to support particular OER initiatives.

Technology Enhanced Learning Survey (June 2015)

Surrounded as we are by technologies, in almost every aspect of our lives, it is important that we are able to make sensible decisions about what works and what doesn’t work, about what facilitates and what encumbers and, importantly, about what inspires and encourages learning and creativity. This survey provides invaluable information about the current state of play in our institutions of higher education.

Teaching and Learning in Irish Education: A Roadmap for Enhancement in a Digital World 2015-2017 (March 2015)

One of the key goals of the National Forum is, via wide consultation, to create a digital roadmap to help to guide institutions and organisations in the development of local and national digital strategies and to ensure alignment, coherence and a sense of common endeavour at a sectoral level.

This document is designed to inform and guide senior managers, heads of department, schools or faculties and leaders within the higher education sector. It focuses also on systems-level higher education organisations, as well as representative organisations within the sector which together must take the lead in building digital capacity to enhance teaching and learning across the sector. The roadmap identifies the key priorities for change and provides an informed framework for supporting organisations in addressing these
priorities.

Both an executive summary and a full report are available for download

Mapping professional development pathways for those who teach in Irish higher education: Where are we now and where do we want to go? (March 2015)

The National Forum has launched a consultation on proposals for the establishment and management of a professional development framework for those who teach in Irish higher education. The following consultation documents have been written to support this process.

Strategic and Leadership Perspectives on Digital Capacity in Irish Higher Education (February 2015)

This report, commissioned by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (National Forum), outlines strategic and leadership perspectives on building digital capacity across the Irish higher education sector. Conducted in tandem with the development of an extended roadmap focused on building digital capacity (to be published shortly), it explores and analyses leadership perspectives along with the stated strategic objectives of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) articulated in the Mission-based Performance Compacts (Compacts). This scoping exercise adds value by analysing the level of explication of digital capacity within institutions’ formal strategies, by exploring the differences and similarities between institutional types in this regard, and by gaining valuable senior management insights into some of the key challenges and opportunities that our institutions are grappling with when it comes to enhancing teaching and learning with digital technology.

Principles and First Insights from the Sectoral Consultation on Building Digital Capacity in Irish Higher Education (May 2014)

This document articulates an emerging national vision. It states why we must build digital capacity and highlights what next steps we should take to utilise digital technology in the best ways possible in order ensure a creative, engaging exciting and effective learning environment for our students.

Summary Report of the Sectoral Dialogue Sessions in Irish Higher Education (January 2014)

The National Forum are delighted to announce the publication of the report of the Sectoral Dialogue Session that took place in December 2013.