Event details

Webinar: The choice, use and impact of metrics in learning and teaching: recommendations for future policy and practice

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Metrics are pervasive in higher education. They impact on every aspect of life in higher education. They are used to track our students’ progress, assess their attainment, engagement and satisfaction with higher education. They measure the excellence of our teaching, the impact of our research and our reach, and how we collaborate with partners outside of academia. They assess how higher education institutions are governed, the quality of their provision and enable national and international comparison. Metrics have the potential to change behaviour in response to and in anticipation of targets, and to influence what is valued, quantifiable and recognised as important for those engaged in higher education. In this webinar, our first presenter will explore the impact of learning and teaching metrics on academic development and the second provides a model to evidence the less tangible aspects of learning and teaching enhancement not captured by current metrics. Following the presentations, there will be opportunities for participants to pose questions to the presenters and to engage in group discussion.   

Below are outlines of the papers and presenter biographies:

1.      Do metrics measure up? The effect of Learning and Teaching metrics on academic development

                     Professor Roni Bamber

Metrics have had distorting effects on ways of thinking and practising across HE, and on academic development. We know from the literature and from our own experience that these effects have come in a wave of managerialism and accountability. We know from our daily experiences what some of the impact has been on academic development, as we find ourselves increasingly supporting institutional strategies aimed at improving ratings, and, perhaps, ignoring rich qualitative data in favour of ‘what counts’.  But is this the whole story?

Research carried out over 2019-20 has sought to establish what practical and conceptual effects ‘metrification’ has had on academic developers and their work. A survey of academic developers revealed some of the varied thinking and practices which have evolved, and how developers on the ground are moving beyond coping with the demands of metrification, to using data constructively. It is hoped the research will then help developers in articulating constructive possibilities for using metrics in the future.

2.      Going beyond metrics- how can we determine the value of less tangible aspects of enhancement?

Professor Alastair Robertson, Professor Elizabeth Cleaver, and Dr Fiona Smart,

Currently UK policymakers use proxy indicators such as student satisfaction, educational outcomes and graduate salaries to measure teaching quality and student success/ graduate outcomes. However, it is recognised that these proxies are not without significant limitations and do not tell the whole story. This Quality Assurance Agency [QAA]-funded project sought to provide a renewed understanding of contributory aspects to student success in higher education that are important yet not easily measurable or quantifiable i.e. so-called intangible assets. A novel conceptual model and accompanying evaluation process for evidencing these intangible assets will be presented.

Presenter biographies:

Professor Roni Bamber is Professor Emerita at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, where she was Director of the Centre for Academic Practice. She was responsible for enhancing learning, teaching and research across the University. She chaired the Scottish Enhancement Theme on Student Transition and has worked extensively with universities in Greece, India, Nepal, the Middle East, North Africa and South Africa. Roni’s research focusses on lecturer development and the evaluation of academic work. 

Professor Alastair Robertson is Professor of Learning and Teaching and Director of Academic and Student Learning at Glasgow Caledonian University. Alastair supports an enhanced student learning experience through collaboration with colleagues across the University. He is Vice Chair of the Scottish Higher Education Enhancement Committee (SHEEC), and his experience extends to a number of areas influencing the student learning experience including academic leadership, strategic change, learning spaces, technology enhanced learning, student engagement and national higher education policy development.

Professor Elizabeth Cleaver will be joining Bucks New University in June 2020 as Pro Vice Chancellor (Education and Digital) providing leadership in all matters related to education, the student experience and the use of digital technology. Following a period working in educational policy evaluation for a range of government sponsors, she has spent the last 12 years focusing on the enhancement of learning and teaching in four contrasting institutional settings. Liz’s interest in evidencing intangible yet important aspects of the university experience can be traced back to the earliest part of her academic career where, as a qualitative sociologist, her research focused on the meaning and experience of housing and home for students and young adults.

Dr Fiona Smart is an Associate Professor in Learning and Teaching and Head of the Department of Learning and Teaching Enhancement at Edinburgh Napier University. She is a Principal Fellow of the HEA and an International HE Consultant.


This event is part of the SRHE’s Higher Education Policy (HEP) network, which is convened by Dr Karen Smith (University of Hertfordshire), Professor Terri Kim (University of East London) and Professor Carole Leathwood (Professor Emeritus, London Metropolitan University). 

Network: Higher Education Policy
Date(s): Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Times: 11:00 - 12:30
Signup Deadline: Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Location: Online event, link will be provided
Lunch Provided: No
Spaces Left: No Spaces Left
Prices: Members: Free, Guests: Free
There are no spaces left for this event
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