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Anthony Smith asks, "Are you a 'glass half-full' person?"

31 May 2012

Professor Anthony Smith, Vice-Provost (Education), considers the importance of personal outlook and urges the teaching and learning community at UCL to make every contact count.

Professor Anthony Smith, UCL's Vice-Provost (Education)

Are you a 'glass half-full' or 'glass half-empty' person? Your point of view will largely determine how we face the next 18 months.

We have multiple priorities: completing preparations for the REF exercise by securing the very best output and impact cases, implementing the new enterprise and international strategies, and further enhancing the student experience at UCL. Perfect storm or perfect opportunity? I favour the latter and believe there is no better time to reflect on our teaching and learning practices.

Now five months into my role, one of its many pleasures has been getting to know the extraordinary UCL community. Hardly a day goes by when I don't meet colleagues who are doing wonderful work with their students. Each of them brings outstanding academic scholarship to their students, often associated with the exploration of new techniques and technologies to enhance student engagement and provide more support and feedback on performance. Across the diverse range of disciplines there is a common theme and that is a real focus on the quality of interaction between students and faculty - an approach I am calling 'make every contact count'.

With so much focus quite rightly on the student experience, accelerated by the new tuition fees arrangements, the onus is on all of us to give a distinctly UCL experience to all of our taught students. This is characterised by research-led teaching, where research and education interact creatively with each other, and our Education for Global Citizenship agenda. For UCL graduates to be best-placed in an extraordinarily competitive employment market it is essential for them to think and express themselves critically and clearly in their discipline and to have had the opportunity to study global issues from different disciplinary perspectives.

Through the Teaching and Learning Portal and its newsletter we will be showcasing teaching and learning practices across UCL and providing tools and support to programme leaders, departments and faculties who wish to adopt them. Being exceptionally time poor is a fact of life for all of us, irrespective of our discipline. I hope these case studies will give you the headspace to reflect on your own teaching and learning. With scholarly innovation, particularly around assessment and feedback, there is every opportunity to 'make every contact count' and gain that most precious resource, time. Overly optimistic? Maybe, but then I am a 'glass half-full' person!

Professor Anthony Smith, Vice-Provost (Education)

Page last modified on 31 may 12 12:29

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