The Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) Portfolio and the Division of Research collaborated to develop the program, and it is facilitated by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) Portfolio. The program draws from the expertise of UNSW academics and the experience of UNSW students.
The program introduces participants to a range of topics and issues in learning and teaching that are key to getting started with teaching. Sessions explore perspectives on student learning, good practice in how to plan and facilitate a learning experience, and the basics of assessment and feedback. The program also gives participants the opportunity to plan, facilitate and evaluate a short teaching session.
In 2020, the program models a fully online learning approach, comprising four sessions delivered online using Moodle. As they engage in online learning activities, participants will experience and explore the potential of this learning environment, including how it builds interaction with fellow participants.
Program fees for UNSW ECRs and HDRS will be sponsored by the University upon admission into this program.
Program aims and outcomes
The program aims to help participants develop their understanding of learning and teaching and build skills and confidence in planning and facilitating a teaching session. After completing this program they should be able to:
1. Demonstrate understanding of some key elements of learning and how they relate to teaching and to their disciplinary context.
2. Plan, facilitate and evaluate a short teaching session that aligns aims and approach with outcomes.
3. Give and receive feedback to colleagues regarding teaching and to students regarding assessment of learning.
In light of recent events surrounding COVID-19, the BTT program will be offered fully online in 2020. The program will run over 6 weeks with total participation time of approximately 12 hours (6 hours of online material and 6 hours of webinars and practice teaching session activities).
Dates and schedule
BTT is aimed at UNSW Early Career Researchers (ECRs) and Higher Degree Research candidates (HDRs) with little to no experience of teaching.
Participants need to be able to participate in the online activities and webinar sessions of the program and should seek the appropriate approvals from Supervisors. The program will commence on 20th July and conclude on 28th of August.
The webinar sessions are scheduled as follows:
Module 1: 24th July - 11am to 12pm
Module 2: 31st July - 11am to 12pm
Module 3: 7th August - 11am to 12pm
Module 4: Online practice teaching: 21 August to 28 August (time commitment is a total of one 2-hour period over this week - times to be announced at a later stage)
Who should participate?
The program is designed for UNSW ECRs or HDRs who are not currently teaching and with no experience of teaching. Those who are teaching at UNSW should attend the Foundations of University Learning and Teaching program, which uses the teaching experience of participants as a foundation for exploring how they might extend their teaching and curriculum design capabilities.
Expressions of interest for the 2020 BTT program have now closed.
Expressions of interest for the 2021 program will open in January 2021.
Certification, attendance and further development
Participants will receive a Certificate of Completion on completion of all elements of the program.
You are required to attend at least three of the four face-to-face webinars, however please note that it is mandatory to attend and successfully meet the requirements of Session 4 (Trying it out: Practice teaching session) in order to receive your Certificate of Completion.
Before enrolling, consider whether you can meet the requirements (mandatory attendance at Session 4), keeping in mind your workload and other commitments.
Should participants wish to extend their development once they commence teaching, they can undertake the Foundations of University Learning and Teaching program (FULT@unsw.edu.au)
Spotlight: Jodie Kidd
1. What attracted you to the BTT program?
I applied to BTT because I wanted to be a better teacher. Before applying, I had tutored for a couple of semesters at UNSW. While I was getting through the content in the tutorials, I wanted to create a more engaging classroom environment and more effective learning activities. I also wanted to prepare better for lessons and to feel less anxious about teaching.
BTT’s aims around building confidence and understanding learning and teaching fit exactly with what I was looking for. It also offered a chance to meet and learn from other people who were starting out as teachers.
2. What are some of the ways the program helped you in your practice or developing teaching skills?
The main thing I took away was an understanding of the whole spectrum of teaching and learning. I had focussed on what was happening in the classroom but BTT helped me understand how a tutorial fits with the theory of learning and teaching, curriculum design, and assessment. I’ve found this really helpful in understanding my role as a tutor and where I should direct my energy in preparing for and facilitating tutorials.
Another key takeaway was the importance of feedback – both for me as a teacher and for students. I was a bit afraid of student feedback because I felt I wasn’t doing a great job, but am now (almost) excited to get feedback and see how I can improve. I’ve also realised how important both positive and critical feedback is for student learning and have been trying to improve the clarity of feedback I give.
The practice teaching session and feedback were particularly helpful. Getting feedback from peers and an experienced teacher was an excellent way to hear about where I could improve.
3. What are some of the key aspects of the program that you could apply immediately to your teaching practice?
Asking for and giving effective feedback was one of the things I immediately applied. I did an anonymous survey in week 3 of term and got some really useful feedback from students about how to make the lessons more useful. I also made more effort to give useful feedback to students about their learning.
Active learning was another key concept I tried to implement straight away. I moved away from tutorials that were heavy with explanation and tried to think about ways students could more actively engage with the material.
I also let go of the need to know everything in the classroom. I would get really anxious about not being able to answer student questions. I learned in BTT that this is totally OK, and that students appreciate if you’re honest and tell them you’ll get back to them about it. I used this immediately and would follow up with an answer the following week. Students specifically mentioned that they appreciated this in their end of term feedback.
4. How would you describe your experience to the future participants?
A great introduction to the theory of teaching and learning. Also, a chance to practice teaching in a supportive environment, and be mentored by experienced educators.
Spotlight: Amos Branch
What attracted you to the BTT program?
After working in industry as a process chemist in a petrochemical manufacturing plant, I wanted a change to a more environmentally focused discipline. I returned to UNSW and completed a PhD focused on investigating and managing health risks from water recycling processes in August 2016. After PhD, I engaged in a variety of contract research-based projects. I had always enjoyed teaching activities and had given guest lectures and acted as a tutor during my PhD. Upon starting a full-time contract in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering as a Research Associate in 2017, I wanted to try and get some more teaching opportunities but was finding it difficult to demonstrate my abilities on paper. I looked internally and found that BTT could be useful for applicants who were not yet allocated coordination for courses and could help me prepare for the FULT course (which I went on to complete later).
What are some of the ways the program helped you in your practice or develop teaching skills?
The most useful part of BTT was becoming aware of the support networks for teaching across the university. In attending BTT, I wanted to be able to gain more access to teaching opportunities. I am now (T1 2019) coordinating the new ENGG4102 Humanitarian Engineering Project course and am applying a lot of the content gained from both BTT and FULT. The final practice session in BTT, presenting a short lesson to a group, was very valuable as it provided immediate, constructive feedback from my peers and an experienced lecturer who acted as a session moderator.
What are some of the key aspects of the program that you could apply immediately to your teaching practice?
BTT opened my eyes to frameworks for scaffolding of teaching and learning materials. Providing new ideas in a logical and structured way is very important when planning and delivering a course. Probably more importantly, there was a focus on avoiding bias and always trying to provide constructive feedback.
How would you describe your experience to the future participants?
BTT was a good reminder to put yourself in both the teacher and student shoes when planning teaching materials. I think BTT and FULT are good at connecting people from different faculties around the common goal of improving their teaching practices. I would recommend that PhD candidates, thinking of continuing into research and education roles, undertake the BTT course as it will probably help not just with teaching but communication of all ideas.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have further enquiries about this program.