London School of Economics
The approach at the LSE to Preparing for Academic Practice
- Inductions are held for all new PhD students and (separately) for all new research staff (both are one-off events at the start the year - late arrivals offered one-to-one meetings with TLC, by personal invitation, as soon as we are aware of their existence).
- The majority of PhD students are offered teaching opportunities at some stage - mainly in the form of small group discussions or problem classes, with one-to-one tutorial sessions, and essay/problem set formative marking. The teaching is mainly carried out at undergraduate level, but some closely controlled MSc teaching is permitted. A few students are involved in exam marking (as second markers). Occasional opportunities are made available (often when PhD students are near to completion) for lecture spots on appropriate courses. Many PhD students also teach elsewhere in London (at HEIs, FEIs, and Schools); LSE is currently exploring a "Teaching Internship" idea with another institution.
- Teacher training is provided, with compulsory paid initial training, and with the option of various alternatives, through to full Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCertHE), which is accredited by the Higher Education Academy. The initial training is varied, in order to suit different departmental and disciplinary needs. The PGCertHE is a very flexible qualification: participants each develop their own programmes of work, relevant to their own particular needs and interests. The programme also contains multiple "stopping off" points, to permit students to focus on selected subject areas if they so wish, without completing the entire Certificate.
- All teachers receive student feedback at least once and possibly twice a year. Their scores are benchmarked against the School target of 80% of students being "fairly/very satisfied" with the teaching which they have received. All teachers are offered support, with particular assistance being allocated to those falling below this threshold. Several departments include briefing sessions, teaching observation and the moderation of marking standards as part of their local support for new teachers.
- The School’s published guidance on good practice for the employment of class teachers provides the basic definitions of contract standards, support and development.
- The Roberts Skills List (A-C) is addressed through a dedicated "Methodology Institute", which is now adding various short course options to its programme for both PhD students and research staff
- The Roberts Skills List (D-G) will be handled via a central programme, currently under development, which will be guided by the responses over last two years to the most recent CROS survey.
- LSE also offers open sessions on various "Roberts" agenda items, directly marketed to research staff and PhD students. In 2005, a strong new series was initiated on “Working with the Media”.
- The School funds a 0.5 FTE post in the Careers Department which is dedicated to research staff and PhD students, and which allows for the provision of one-to-one discussion opportunities, and a selection of relevant seminars.
- For the record, the School has also organised (probably for the last time in 2004/5) a PhD Conference and Careers Development week. This has involved assorted skills development activities for PhD students, culminating in an in-house PhD conference to promote networking.
- Plans have been developed for 2005/6 which include a structured series of events aimed at new-intake PhD/Research students, mid-year students, those in the final year of their PhD degrees, postdoctoral students, and more advanced researchers. These students will be served by a combined central programme, with variations reflecting the quantitative/less quantitative social science divide.
- The initial teacher training supported by handbook, which is reviewed and updated annually. It is available in hard copy format and online.
This account of Practice at LSE has been submitted by Dr Liz Barnett, Director, Teaching and Learning Centre, London School of Economics. (n.b. the information given is accurate as of 1 June 2005.) It is not an official statement by the London School of Economics.