Staff Talent Development
At Ghent University, we expect every study programme to reflect on, and pursue an education policy that is an explicit implementation of our six strategic education objectives. One of these objectives is ‘Staff Talent Development'.
In terms of personnel, Ghent University sees opportunities in diversity and aims for the maximum development of talents. Cultural, social and gender diversity are seen as an added value.
We set up various initiatives to encourage our teaching staff’s talent development. The Education Department has an annual support offer (training sessions) for our teaching staff, taking into account the different target audiences (i.e. members of the professorial, assistant academic or research staff), as well as for our study programmes (study programme management). For teaching staff as well as for study programmes, we have a basic and an in-depth offer.
Take a look at our Education Support Offer via UTOP (more general).
There are various initiatives to stimulate education innovation, both at an institutional level as well as at faculty level. Since 2008, our faculties receive annual funding to spend on education innovation. To claim this funding, faculties must submit project proposals approved by their Faculty Council to the Education Council. These proposals must be situated in the faculty’s broader policy on education innovation. If granted, the funding is allocated to the faculty’s Director of Studies.
In addition, the Education Council also annually finances a number of institutional education innovation projects. These initiatives all aim at an innovation of teaching practice. The faculty and study programmes encourage lecturers to implement education innovation in their course units. Possible examples are blended learning, peer teaching, problem-based education, group work, project work, peer assessment, use of voting boxes/smartphones, etc. At Ghent University, we encourage our study programmes and faculties to collaborate as much as possible with regard to these initiatives (and their results) within study programmes, within and between faculties and with the institutional level.
Having a job offers opportunities for professional development, for developing competencies and for establishing social contacts. However, a job can also impact our psychosocial well-being. Job-related and personal factors may sometimes lead to tensions and frustrations, resulting in stress reactions, conflicts and other undesirable behaviour. Such situations can put an employee’s health and well-being at risk. It is important for study programme (management) to pay attention to these aspects, to detect signs of stress and/or burnout, to try and respond appropriately, and to take action.
At the level of the university, a group of highly-trained professionals are available to assist staff members in finding solutions to psychosocial issues, undesirable and inappropriate behaviour such as bullying, violence and sexual harassment at work, etc. These professionals are e.g. the confidential counsellors working at Trustpoint and the prevention advisor on psychosocial issues.
General Points to Consider for Study Programmes
The Programme Committee is the appropriate body for making well-considered choices in order to promote staff talent development as much as possible. It goes without saying that these choices are in line with a study programme’s specific context and individuality.
Lecturers must be assigned in such a way that students have maximal opportunity to achieve the learning outcomes. A study programme has a vision and pursues a corresponding policy for assigning different types of lecturers, i.e. members of the professorial staff (lecturer to senior full professor), postdocs whether or not they are lecturer-in-charge, visiting professors, assistant academic staff and researchers on internal and external funding, teaching assistants and tutors, etc...
Lecturers have an exemplary function. A heterogenous teaching team almost automatically entails that lecturers can act as role models for different (types of) students. The more diversity there is, the more different perspectives and teaching methods will be discussed and used.
Study programmes pursue a policy on education-related professional development, which encourages lecturers to participate in activities organized by Ghent University’s Support Services, and/or by the faculty, or by third parties. Study programmes must encourage their lecturers to join relevant training sessions on a regular. Study programmes can also set up their own professional development initiatives, possibly in collaboration with the Support Services. Examples are annual education days (half/full day) for all lecturers, conclaves, study days, … . Faculties and study programmes organize these with a specific focus on their own study programme(s).
The Course Feedback by Students (individual course units being reviewed by students) gives study programmes a good idea of student satisfaction on a lecturer’s teaching practice. It often also points out strengths and weaknesses in that teaching practice. On the one hand, study programmes must empower and motivate lecturers with positive professional feedback. On the other hand, study programmes must also take sufficient time to coach lecturers who have received less positive feedback. The first step is to discuss this with the Programme Committee chairperson and/or the faculty’s Director of Studies. If such a meeting reveals that there is a need for improvement actions, an action plan with specific points for improvement is drawn up. This process is part of the faculties’ and study programmes’ continuous quality assurance. The lecturers involved draw up their own an action plan, which takes into account the main points (e.g. further training, peer tutoring, discussion with colleagues, an individualized trajectory supervised by the Education Support Services, etc.). It goes without saying that lecturers need sufficient coaching in this matter. The following year, the course units of the lecturers involved are once more included in the round of feedback so that further monitoring and follow-up is possible.
In addition, a study programme’s policy must include mental health and well-being of its staff. The Education Monitor can be used to indicate how study programmes inform their staff about the specialized support services with regard to (mental) health and well-being.