INTRODUCTION TO UNIVERSITY TEACHING – A TRAINING PROCESS FOR EARLY-CAREER ACADEMICS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PORTO
University of Porto (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Conference name: 15th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 7-9 November, 2022
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:This project is an outcome of the work developed by the Pedagogical Innovation and Educational Technologies Unit of the University of Porto.
An early-career academic is normally defined in terms of research capacity in the five years following completion of a PhD (Bosanquet et al., 2017). However, the perception and potential of the term “early career” are changing. Early career academics need to develop a profile in teaching, research and administration, being constantly confronted by overlapping needs (Moosa, 2020). Also, the fact that we are facing the ageing of the university staff, in Portugal and at the University of Porto, motivates, in the coming years, the hiring of a more expressive number of professors with undersized or no previous pedagogical experience.
Predictably, professors that integrate the university career will be highly qualified from the scientific point of view but lack pedagogical practice. Although the typical profile of the early-career academic at the U. Porto some years ago did not foresee pedagogical training, nowadays, perhaps, we have good reasons to change expectations regarding academics at the beginning of their career, such as:
- The changes in the available educational offers, the significant cultural diversity of the academic community and inter-institutional/international exchanges configure the need for a more dynamic, updated and flexible university.
- The pedagogical performance of teachers is recognized as one of the determining factors in the academic success of students.
- The development of new offers in educational technologies requires technical training for the knowledgeable choice of the most appropriate resources.
To offer training on different pedagogical approaches, on technological resources available at the university and on soft skills of early-career academics, the University of Porto implemented the initiative “Introduction to University Teaching – A training process for early-career academics at the University of Porto”. The main objectives of this project are to facilitate the integration of new academics into the teaching career; foster updated knowledge in higher education pedagogy; make new academics aware of the importance of continuous reflection and pedagogical innovation in their routines.
This initiative target academics of U. Porto who started their careers no longer than five years ago. The pilot edition included 54 participants and 27 in-house trainers. Through the results analysis of the trainees' satisfaction surveys and trainee's written reports, it emerges that this initiative proved to be very efficient in what it proposes. The acquired knowledge is already being put into practice by some early-career academics, and they are already noticing a positive impact on their students’ motivation and engagement.
The early-career academic training process can be an instrument capable of guiding change in the university and being a nodal point for the growth and development of a new generation of academics. This initiative could support early-career academics to have a voice to influence practices and inform transferability to other contexts.
Keywords: University Teaching, Early-Career Academics, Pedagogical Training, Higher Education.