Academic journal article CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal

University Teachers' Opinions about Higher Education Pedagogical Training Courses in Slovenia

Academic journal article CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal

University Teachers' Opinions about Higher Education Pedagogical Training Courses in Slovenia

Article excerpt

Introduction

Quality and effective university teaching has received increased attention in recent years, and training of university teachers has become quite a widespread trend in many countries (Postareff, Lindblom-Ylänne & Nevgi, 2007). Traditionally, however, research carries more weight at universities, while teaching is considered a secondary preoccupation of teaching staff (Leitner, 1998; Pleschová et al., 2012). Consequently, professional development in teaching practice has not been a priority for new university teachers to date (Lisewski, 2006). Quality teaching in HE is vital for learning, but university teaching staff in Europe are not as well prepared for their teaching career as for research (Pleschová et al., 2012). However, through proper steering, simulation and evaluation of the learning process of students, teaching is becoming increasingly important (Leitner,1998). Fry (2006) writes that, in the last decade of the 20th century, there were two factors (in the UK) that pushed the government towards taking greater interest in teaching quality: increased pressure on resources, and rising student numbers at universities. Perhaps due to the latter, "initial training programmes for university teachers are now widespread in many institutions both in the UK and internationally" (Coffey & Gibbs, 2000, p. 385).

In Slovenia, too, PTCs for university teachers have become more common in recent years. There is nonetheless little evidence concerning teachers' opinions and beliefs regarding PTCs and their placement in habilitation procedures. The present study attempts to explore PTCs with an emphasis on Slovenian university teachers' opinions and beliefs regarding initial and sustained PT and assessment of the pedagogical qualification of the individual, with regard to which student evaluation of teaching (SET) can be considered as an important source of information. Although, in Slovenia, as in most European countries, teachers are not required to obtain a certificate of teaching competencies in habilitation procedures, this study presents the level of importance that teachers attribute to PTCs, the "probationary lecture" and SET with regard to the process of habilitation.

Background

Current efforts focus on making PT a standard part of the required qualifications of university teachers (Leitner, 1998). Professional teaching that meets student needs and academic standards has historically been "perhaps regarded as mainly the preserve of the individual" (Fry, 2006, p. 96). Nowadays, training of university teachers is essential for excellent teaching (High Level Group ..., 2013), as, without PT teaching, decisions are based on know-how accumulated during the teaching career, and on imitating those with more experience (Rosado Pinto, 2008). If the university seeks to educate better graduates and reduce drop-out rates, it should appropriately encourage teachers to improve their teaching, not just their research (Marentic Pozarnik, 1998).

Leitner (1998, p. 342-343) presents Elton's recommendation (1993, p. 69): teachers who have never been taught how to teach must receive some PT, and "if good teachers work with institutions of academic pedagogy[,] they will improve their work. The results will be known and will also influence those who perhaps are not so good" However, if teachers are expected to attend PTCs, courses should be clearly defined (Marentic Pozarnik, 1998). Furthermore, pedagogical competencies are subject to evaluation, which necessitates providing opportunities to acquire such competencies (Leitner, 1998). Leitner (ibid.) writes that a university or college should offer an adequate pedagogical qualification and in-service PTCs to each young teacher in order to help fill in the gaps that have been found as a result of an evaluation process. Otherwise, the data obtained through evaluation can be nothing more than "the construction with data of a tower of Babel" (ibid., p. 342). …

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