Shining a Light on the National Professional Development Framework for all who Teach in Irish Higher Education: Why it Matters, How it Works.
National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Dublin, 2017.
In higher education, we have become increasingly aware of the narrative of being part of a knowledge-based economy, and know there are strong, compelling reasons for continuous professional development (PD) to support our role as educators. For anyone who teaches and supports learning in Irish higher education, PD is fundamental for remaining current in their role, it provides the drive to progress their career, and to deal with change in the sector. Prior to 2016, there has not been a mechanism or route in place nationally to give structure, focus and support to individual academic staff to avail of relevant PD and utilise it to realise their full potential in their teaching role. Promisingly, there are more PD opportunities to choose from nowadays for those teaching in Irish HE than ever before, but negotiating the labyrinth can remain difficult. This article discusses a key strand of the workplan of the National Forum (NF) for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning - the formation and early implementation of the National Professional Development Framework (PDF) for all who teach in higher education (HE). This important work is leading towards national recognition of an individual’s commitment to professionalism in teaching. By deepening sectoral understanding of the PDF itself and raising awareness of the recent pilot study implementation with staff who teach in universities, institutes of technology and private colleges, we are adding to the long-standing debate about the possible connections between professionalisation of teaching and improvements in student learning experiences and outcomes. We have structured the article using a series of questions, to highlight what is unique about this PD Framework, its underpinning values and distinctive domains.