2020 Expertise Symposium

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Word cloud of feedback from participants at the closing session of the Expertise Symposium

The first event hosted by the HEPPP research network was the inaugural ‘Exploring Expertise in Teaching in Higher Education’ symposium. This event was predicated on the pioneering research of HEPPP convenor, Helen King, and featured presentations from over 25 contributors from the UK, Australia, Canada, China, the Netherlands and USA. Originally intended to be a 30-participant, local event on campus at UWE Bristol, the opportunity for live and asynchronous activity online opened up by the Covid-19 pandemic meant that over 500 participants registered to attend from all over the world!

The event was hugely successful and launched an exciting “new discourse” (Jackie Potter) for teaching in higher education. See Twitter #expertiseLTHE

The presentations were categorised into four topics: Perspectives on Expertise, Pedagogical Content Knowledge, Learning & Development, and Artistry of Teaching. The latter three topics being the interacting dimensions of Helen’s model of the characteristics of expertise in teaching in higher education(HE) which draws from the generic characteristics explored in the extensive expertise literature.

Videos of all the presentations are available as a playlist on UWE’s Academic Practice Directorate YouTube channel.

A number of common themes arose from the 15 live presentations, 13 asynchronous videos and participant chat (see summary video on YouTube).

  • Teaching as a community endeavour:
    The benefits of collaboration, pair-teaching, sharing perspectives and expertises, and learning from other disciplines.
  • Reflection:
    “Understanding our own experiences so we can develop our pedagogies” (Leo Africano). Reflection from multiple perspectives including scholarship.
    This links to improvisation in teaching: noticing, dialogue and dynamic reflection-in-action.
  • Expertise as Care:
    The importance of respectful relationships with our students, breaking down barriers, empathy.
    Caring about what you do as a teacher, being motivated by wanting to do your best and improve your students’ learning.
    Caring for ourselves and managing the emotional labour of teaching.
  • Teaching-Learning Interaction:
    From examples of pair-teaching and mentoring, we learn from supporting others in their teaching. We learn from our own teaching, and when we have opportunities to be learners we learn about teaching from that perspective.
    Dsygu = the Welsh word for teaching and learning.
  • Performance:
    Performance is not acting or pretending to be someone else. It’s about being yourself with an audience. Acknowledging and supporting the development of one’s teaching authenticity / persona.
    Balancing our multiple personas / identities as professional practitioners, researchers and teachers – the “identity wobble board” (Rachel Wood). How does our identity shift as our pedagogy evolves?

This symposium was presented as an inaugural event to be followed up in 2021/22 with a second event hosted by another institution. Watch this space for more information!

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