When staff are the students: engaging staff as student partners in the design of academic professional development programmes

Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

SEDA Spring Conference 2019


For over 15 years, the DIT’s Learning Teaching and Technology Centre (LTTC) has offered a suite of accredited postgraduate programmes and modules for staff. Demand for these programmes and modules has increased since 2013 with 187 participants graduating and a further 221 completing modules for continuing professional development (CPD). DIT was the first higher education institution (HEI) in Ireland to state a requirement that newly appointed lecturers complete a postgraduate qualification in teaching and learning. During 2018, we have been reviewing our modules and programmes to revise and revalidate them. We have also undertaken a substantive quality assurance review of our Centre. In the case of academic professional development programmes, academics are the students. Through our review and redesign, we have been mindful of recent research and the development of the “students as partners” perspective as well as the differing contexts in which academics are working (Bovill, Cook-Sather and Felten, 2011; HE Academy, n.d.; Healey, Flint and Harrington, 2014). We have seen this process as an opportunity to revise our offerings but are also aware of the meta-learning. We can reflect on the experience of designing in this way and bring our learning to our engagements with other programme teams.

In this paper, we explore how we have taken a partnership approach with current and former students on our programmes in order to inform the review and redesign. We have conducted questionnaire-based research as well as focus groups and desk studies to evaluate the programmes. Our findings were distilled into a formal report for quality assurance purposes, but also informed the design of a CPD Framework extending beyond the traditional provisions. The Framework takes account of the unaccredited professional development opportunities also open to staff, and aligns with the National Professional Development Framework recently introduced in Ireland (National Forum, 2016).