Teaching is the most well-known of all the functions universities undertake and the one that directly affects the most people.
Most academic members of staff are required to teach alongside their research and administrative duties but some decide to make teaching a larger part of their role. Lecture theatre teaching is just one aspect of teaching in higher education. Teachers influence how exciting and relevant a degree programme is by being heavily involved in the design of course objectives and content. University teachers stay-up-to-date with cutting edge research. This involves constantly researching their subject area and making contributions to relevant publications.
They also conduct pedagogic research, which is research into the practices of teaching, learning and assessment. This work feeds into the decision-making and planning process of the university they work for. This is how universities improve their teaching and offer students a more stimulating learning experience. Education relies on excellent pedagogic research to be of a world class standard.Teaching-focussed academics also undertake other forms of scholarship, for example, generating novel educational resources and editing educational journals.
Teachers also spend a lot of time supporting their students – from mentoring and guiding them in their career progression, to ensuring their general well-being while at university. It is no surprise then that often teachers are the starting point of a scientist’s professional network, and these networks go on to become lifelong friendships.
How do I get involved in teaching?
You can develop your own unique route to teaching following your PhD. Some teachers discover the passion early and focus their career on education in their very first academic appointment. Others switch to education after working for many years in an academic role that combines both research and teaching.
Teaching is for you if you have a passion for communicating science, developing innovative education initiatives and nurturing scientists of the future.
You can also pursue additional formal educational qualifications in Education and/or Pedagogy at any point in your career. Examples of this include the Certificate of Higher Education and the Certificate in Further Education and Training. Universities will usually provide training to support academics to achieve additional qualifications. Such training allows you to develop your expertise and may also be helpful in progressing your career.
This booklet is one strand of a collaboration between The Physiological Society, the Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS), the Royal Society of Biology (RSB) and the Heads of University Biosciences (HUBS) that aims to raise the status and valuation of teaching in careers in Higher Education. It features 32 bioscientists and medical scientists whose promotion at one or more stages of their academic career has been achieved largely, sometimes exclusively, through recognition of their achievements in teaching / educational leadership. All the contributors share a passion for teaching, for supporting students and for developing educational initiatives – as their biographies clearly demonstrate.