Hello! My name is Stuart Sims and I’m a relatively recent addition to DCQE in the Academic Development team. I’m a Senior Lecturer in Higher Education with responsibility for Staff-Student Co-creation and the Academic Professional Apprenticeship (both of which I’ll explain shortly). I joined Portsmouth a few months ago from the University of Winchester where I worked as an Educational Developer and Head of Student Engagement.

Portsmouth CoCreate

One of my main activities in DCQE is to develop Portsmouth CoCreate, an ambitious attempt to promote and embed staff-student partnership in the co-development of the curriculum cross institutionally. Co-creation has grown as an agenda for many universities in recent years, not least of all because it can operate as a way forward from a more transactional relationship with students. Many of us are familiar with the well-trodden arguments about students as customers and consumers which have emerged since the introduction of and increases in tuition fees (for those who aren’t, this article from Molesworth, Nixon and Scullion from 2009 is a good starting point). To cut a long story short, if students are paying an eye-watering amount to study with us they may have changed expectations about what that means. The principles of co-creation are not about giving more student choice (as you may expect in a market-driven system) but rather giving students more responsibility and investment to mutually develop or agree the nature of their learning with staff.

An essential part of this work is to discover and highlight what is being done already in this area here. In a relatively short time I have discovered a wide range of innovative practices at Portsmouth ranging from co-developing assessments to collaborative peer mentoring schemes. In the coming months we will be profiling effective practices from Portsmouth and beyond to support others in taking a co-created approach with their students.

We are taking a multi-faceted approach to developing co-creation, this includes training and support for course teams to apply these principles in their context (including in line with the new annual monitoring processes) and the development of a new cross-intuitional module around co-creation.

Academic Professional Apprenticeship

The other half of my role is teaching on our new Academic Professional Apprenticeship (and PgCert). This is a course aimed at staff new to Higher Education and is part of our institutional shift to prioritise Degree Apprenticeships. A new standard in the sector, we are one of the first institutions to develop a course for new lecturers around this apprenticeship model.

The course is mapped to the UKPSF and course members not only receive a qualification, but Fellowship of the HEA upon completion. This course therefore provides an alternative and complementary approach to the APEX programme to support colleagues in achieving this internationally recognised award.

Our first cohort of around 50 course members are just completing their first year and about to progress on to the Research Informed Teaching module which I lead. This module is focused around the conduct of an enhancement or research project which the course members have developed in the first year. The taught elements relate to Educational Research Methods and key learning theories to support this. As well as supporting the development of colleagues, this will lead to a huge range of innovative practice in learning and teaching emerging across the institution. 

Stuart Sims is based in Mercantile with AcDev and the Tel team.

Welcome to the team, Stuart! We look forward to hearing more about your projects in the not so distant future on Tel Tales.

Credit image:  Photo by The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash