In Idea 30 – Departments differ widely in their teaching quality, Graham Gibbs focuses on the significance of the local departmental culture and respect for learning and teaching as the primary influence on teaching quality. In investigating the question ‘what makes a department good at teaching?’ Through his research on this question, Gibbs invites us to see teaching as a responsibility beyond the efforts of the individual charismatic teacher:
- Departments which are known for their poor teaching quality tend to be those that do not value teaching with staff tending not to attend teaching seminars or apply for teaching related grants.
- Departments who had turned their teaching quality around often did so through a wonderful leader, such as a Head of Department, and a challenge, such as the threat of closure.
- Departments with long traditions of teaching quality maintained it through careful maintenance of a culture supportive of teaching, including selection and promotion policies which reward and expect teaching excellence.
Graham Gibbs is one of the UK’s most well known advocates of improving university learning and teaching. With his colleagues (Habeshaw & Habeshaw), he was responsible for the very popular ’53 Interesting Ideas’ books series that have supported countless teachers (new and experienced) to navigate their way through tricky classroom and curriculum dilemmas. Gibbs‘ blog ’53 Powerful Ideas all Teachers Should Know About’ offers a research summary of key issues, and is hosted by the Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) in the UK.