Universities across the world are engaged in a common drive to improve the quality of teaching. However, it is widely recognised that career advancement for academic staff rests primarily on their research profile, with teaching achievement currently playing only a marginal role.
The higher education community has taken steps to address this imbalance and improve the status and recognition of teaching in academic careers. For example, as illustrated in the graph below, at an increasing number of universities across the world, promotion may be denied to academics whose teaching quality is below an acceptable threshold level, while, at the same time, advancement opportunities may be available to a relatively small number of individuals on the basis of exceptional contributions to teaching and learning.
However, these cases represent only a small proportion of academics engaged in university education and any progressive improvement in teaching achievement between these two extremes goes largely unrecognised and unrewarded by universities.
The major structural barrier to change appears to be the absence of a clear definition of teaching achievement at each stage of the career ladder and the inadequacy of the metrics used for evaluating the teaching contribution of academic staff.
Without the tools to assess and compare the quality of an academic’s educational contribution, the research-dominant culture within higher education is unlikely to change.
The Career Framework for University Teaching provides universities with a template to define and evaluate teaching achievement at all stages of the academic career ladder. In particular, the Framework is designed to offer a clear set of definitions of and criteria for teaching achievement that are not bounded by disciplinary, institutional or national contexts, thus maximising the opportunities for achievements to be transferable between institutions.
Career Framework for University Teaching, 2019