Case studies

Case study: Associate Professorships at the University of Hertfordshire

The new Associate Professorship Appointment Procedure at the University of Hertfordshire was launched in 2017 to provide a parallel career pathway to that of the Readership route that will open the access to a wider cross-section of UH staff towards a full Professorship. It runs alongside the existing process for the appointments of both Readerships and Professorships. This case study describes the criteria and process and the initial impact of the scheme.

The criteria for research standing and esteem are detailed, and have been well received by applicants, along with the key performance indicators. The process is on an annual cycle, with a panel interview including an external assessor who is independent of the candidate but working in relevant field. Successful candidates reflecting on the benefit that this scheme has been to them have recognised that being an Associate Professor has opened up opportunities and have shown that the university values their work beyond the university. This has been a significant step indicating an institutional understanding of the complexities that academics face regarding the competing demands in the balance of research, teaching and academic administration. It has proved an invaluable adjunct to the traditional route to Professorship via Readership, which can be less accessible for some groups of academics. The title of Associate Professor has provided credibility, particularly with external collaborators and funding bodies, and is an indicator of individual research achievement, and the university’s investment in researchers.

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Case Study: Growing Research-Rich Higher Education at the University of Hertfordshire

The criteria for research standing and esteem are detailed, and have been well received by applicants, along with the key performance indicators. The process is on an annual cycle, with a panel interview including an external assessor who is independent of the candidate but working in relevant field. Successful candidates reflecting on the benefit that this scheme has been to them have recognised that being an Associate Professor has opened up opportunities and have shown that the University values their work beyond the University. This has been a significant step indicating an institutional understanding of the complexities that academics face regarding the competing demands in the balance of research, teaching and academic administration. It has proved an invaluable adjunct to the traditional route to Professorship via Readership, which can be less accessible for some groups of academics. The title of Associate Professor has provided credibility, particularly with external collaborators and funding bodies, and is an indicator of individual research achievement, and the University’s investment in researchers.

Research at the University of Hertfordshire indicates that it takes concerted cultural change, curriculum and staff development, and student involvement to change the emphasis of our students’ learning from acquiring content to active research. This research, led by Dr Grant Bage, has resulted in the development of a descriptive model that helps to contextualise research rich practice that is being carried out at the University. Two examples of research-rich practice are used to illustrate the diversity of approaches being taken by staff.

The model offers four different starting points, or ways of thinking about what it means to try to develop ‘research rich and informed teaching’. Research-rich education involves one or more of these aspects: students doing, using or understanding research; teaching about our own or the best of others’ research; using evidence to improve our teaching and practice; symbiotic research-teaching relationships where learning processes are coherent, cyclical and dynamic, with staff learning from students as well as students learning from staff in a mutually beneficial, co-dependent and rewarding relationship.

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