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Rewarding Teaching Excellence – focus on individual career development or institutional development

Wednesday 3 July: Conference day one, 2:30pm – 3:00pm parallel session



Room 6 – 303-B05 Sem



Associate Professor Thomas Olsson
Lund University, Sweden

Oddfrid Førland
University of Bergen, Sweden

Associate Professor Torgny Roxå
Lund University, Sweden



Systems for rewarding and recognizing teaching excellence have been implemented in many countries world-wide (Land & Gordon 2015), partly driven by an increased attention to quality assurance and development in higher education. For example, Australia and the UK recognize excellent teachers through professional frameworks on a national level, mainly with prizes and fellowships (Chalmers 2011; Turner & Gosling 2012). These initiatives, as for example the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF), focus primarily on individual career development whereas reward systems in the Nordic countries tend to be more directed toward institutional development (Olsson & Roxå 2013; Meld. St. 16 2017). We would argue that institutional development should be overarching and include individual career development.

The issue of our research is to investigate how the structure of criteria and processes used for assessment of teaching qualities support individual and institutional development. We base our studies on documents and case studies from different reward systems, predominantly Nordic systems and the UKPSF, and we show how significant aspects influence systems and processes from individual and institutional perspectives.

We present results indicating that assessment criteria expose an institution’s definition of teaching excellence and institutional priorities. Our analyses show that if we focus on institutional development, it is important that every applicant, at different academic positions, can reach all criteria. Criteria that build on each other in a hierarchical order will most likely favour traditional individual career development, at the expense of institutional development. In the Nordic countries, we have predominantly adopted systems that focus on institutional development. An illustrating outcome from Lund University is that rewarded teachers are significantly overrepresented at important positions within the university. The fact that rewarded excellent teachers are seriously involved in policy and decision-making is of profound importance for the development of university teaching.


Presentation topic

Tertiary – Leadership

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