Policy for deploying and developing the skills of full- and part-time academic staff
Effective as of April 2016
This policy covers how and why the Faculty of Social Sciences involves full-time and part-time academic staff in its study programmes, and how the Faculty ensures pedagogical skills development among full-time and part-time academic staff.
Like the University of Copenhagen (UCPH), the Faculty has the ambition to offer research-based study programmes of the highest quality. The teaching provided by the Faculty of Social Sciences is of high quality and characterised by being research-based and organised and provided according to good pedagogical theory and practice. The Faculty of Social Sciences has adopted the University’s definition of research-based teaching, as described in Values underpinning educational quality and quality culture at the University of Copenhagen. The Faculty has likewise adopted the University’s policy that all researchers must contribute to the study programmes. (The University’s values and the policy paper are available here: http://uddannelseskvalitet.ku.dk/quality-assurance-of-study-programmes/values-underpinning-the-quality-of-education-and-the-quality-culture/.)
At all levels – and in different ways – the study programmes at the Faculty are based on research and linked to active research environments. Students are taught and/or supervised by active researchers. The study programmes are developed by active researchers and have close links to an active research environment. The teaching and content builds upon the latest research-based knowledge and outcomes. Students learn relevant research methodology and academic theories and will eventually be able to contribute to research in their disciplines.
To ensure that the study programmes are research-based and that the students have ample level of contact with the researchers, the Faculty pays systematic attention to the number of students compared to the number of academic staff members. The Faculty’s standard is that the ratio between the student FTE and the academic staff FTE must not exceed 75. The academic staff FTE included in the calculation solely includes academic staff FTEs spent on education.
In addition, the Faculty attaches importance to the fact that all key elements of the study programme are backed up by active high quality research environments.
Types of full-time and part-time academic staff at the Faculty
The Faculty’s full-time academic staff are primarily made up by: professors, professors with special responsibilities, associate professors, senior researchers, assistant professors, researchers, postdocs, PhD fellows and research assistants. In addition, the Faculty employs a small number of senior advisers and psychology graduates.
Full-time academic staff members are employed at the Faculty's departments and attend to both research and teaching responsibilities. Full-time academic staff members act as lecturers and participate in the development of the study programmes and the teaching. The academic responsibilities in relation to the respective subject elements are managed by full-time academic staff members.
Part-time academic staff at the Faculty primarily consist of non-tenured associate professors, assistant lecturers and teacher’s assistants (i.e. students employed to carry out teaching assignments, also known as student teachers or student instructors). In addition, one-off guest lectures are held. Non-tenured associate professors and assistant lecturers are usually graduates from discipline whose principal occupation are outside the University. Thus, they have knowledge of how the competencies obtained in the course of the study programme are put into practice and are able to add to the teaching an application-oriented and problem-solving perspective. Non-tenured associate professors and assistant lecturers may also come from related or tool-oriented disciplines that form part of the study programmes (e.g. teachers in mathematics or statistics). The principal occupation of a few of the non-tenured associate professors are as researchers at another institution (e.g. a sector research-like institution or CBS).
With a few exceptions, part-time academic staff are only used in connection with teaching responsibilities; not the planning of the study programme and teaching. In cooperation with the board of studies, the head of studies is responsible for recruitment and allocation of part-time academic staff.
Full-time academic staff cover the target field of the study programmes
The study programmes are conducted and developed in the academic environments at the departments, and it is fundamental that, between them, the permanent full-time academic staff members have the skills that are required to be able to cover the target fields of the respective study programmes. The head of department is responsible for contributing on an ongoing basis to the recruitment of full-time academic staff members who pay regard to both the demand for teaching as well as to research strategies. The demand for teaching is clarified in close cooperation with the head of studies with a view to ensuring that the research-based teaching for which the department is responsible is offered.
The head of department will make recommendations to the dean as to which positions to fill and engage in dialogue with the dean as to the demand for and opportunities to advertise jobs. Permanent full-time academic positions will be advertised with the agreement of the dean and the appointment is formally carried out by the dean. An appointment committee on which the head of department as well as the head of studies serve as members assists.
The head of department ensures balance in the time that full-time academic staff spend on research and education, respectively and that all full-time members of the academic staff contribute to the study programmes on an ongoing basis.
Balance in the involvement of full-time and part-time academic staff
At the Faculty, full-time and part-time academic staff are involved to a varying degree, respectively, depending on the characteristics of the study programmes and the individual subject elements as well as the financial framework. In cooperation with the head of department, the head of studies is responsible for the allocation of full-time academic staff to the syllabus.
Like the University of Copenhagen, the Faculty gives priority to the fact that members of both full-time and part-time academic staff are involved respecting their individual strengths and with the common goal of safeguarding the quality and relevance of the study programmes. Full-time and part-time academic staff must be involved when it makes good sense, academically speaking. The involvement of full-time academic staff ensures research-based education at the highest possible level. Part-time academic staff provide an opportunity for involvement practice and allow for more hours of instruction in smaller classes.
On all study programmes at the Faculty, more than the majority of the teaching is carried out by full-time academic staff. At the Faculty, the share of part-time academic staff is generally relatively high, and the norm is that the full-time/part-time academic staff FTE ratio should not be less than 1/2 of the national average for the main subject area of Social Sciences. The relatively low norm for the full-time/part-time academic staff ratio is due to the fact that the Faculty gives priority to enabling full-time academic staff to use a large part of their time on research and to ensuring that students receive a satisfactory number of hours of instruction. In addition, it is considered a strength that the Faculty involves part-time lecturers.
Full-time academic staff FTE is calculated as full-time academic staff FTE spent on education. Time spent on research is, thus, not included in the statement. Part-time academic staff are defined as in the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science’s statement of number of in-class lessons. External co-examiners, teacher’s assistants and student instructors are, thus, not included.
Involvement of full-time academic staff
The individual courses are primarily organised by full-time academic staff and compulsory subjects are to the greatest possible extent taught by full-time academic staff. In the event that teaching is conducted by a member of the part-time academic staff, the course will be developed by or in cooperation with a member of the full-time academic staff, and the overall academic responsibility lies with a member of the academic staff.
The teaching of a number of courses and subject elements is conducted by the member of the full-time academic staff that holds the academic responsibility in order to ensure student contact with research at the highest possible level.
When part-time academic staff conduct the teaching, they may do so either in connection with teaching conducted by a member of the full-time academic staff or as the sole lecturer of course in question (generally optional, application-oriented courses).
Involvement of part-time academic staff in in-class lessons
On a number of courses with many students (typically compulsory courses on the BSc degree programmes), the teaching of the large group that is conducted by a member of the full-time academic staff (the lectures) is complemented by class instruction in smaller groups, which is conducted by lecturers who may be members of the part-time academic staff, most often student instructors, but it can also be assistant lecturers or younger full-time academic staff members (PhD students or research assistants).
This provides an opportunity to make use of methods of teaching that invite the students to interact more, such as class discussions, group work and exercises. It also provides an opportunity for individual or collective grading of assignments and feedback.
In relation to these types of courses, a member of the academic staff has overall responsibility for the coordination and the teaching. The course coordinating full-time academic staff member is expected to:
- Conduct at least one meeting with the lecturers of the course in advance of the commencement of in-class lessons.
- Prepare the general content and structure of in-class lessons, if convenient in collaboration with other members of the academic staff in order that lectures and in-class lessons are academically and pedagogically linked.
- Ensure an academically and pedagogically high and uniform level and content of the respective teaching sessions.
- Conduct a review meeting with the lecturers of the course with a view to optimizing future courses.
- Discuss evaluations and any proposals for action with the head of studies and/or the board of studies with a view to optimizing future teaching and appointments within areas where the evaluations have indicated a potential for improvement.
- Make efforts to ensure pedagogical development, including ensuring that all lecturers participate in the necessary pedagogical courses, as well as make room for and prioritise follow-ups on these in the group.
Part-time academic staff (non-tenured associate professors) as sole lecturer
On a number of courses and other subject elements, a member of the part-time academic staff acts as sole lecturer and conducts the exam as well. This duty is undertaken exclusively by non-tenured associate professors and is employed at the Faculty in order to be able to incorporate practice-based knowledge and perspective into the teaching. Non-tenured associate professors also supervise students in connection with bachelor projects and master’s theses.
As a general rule, non-tenured associate professors have their primary place of work outside of the university world in either the public sector or the private sector and contribute with specialised practice-based knowledge and add an application-oriented dimension to the respective study programmes. This helps ensure career ready graduates.
Non-tenured associate professors primarily enter into two-way dialogues concerning the teaching and exam with the members of the full-time academic staff that are responsible for the course in question (the course coordinator) and the head of studies.
In some cases, non-tenured associate professors themselves are researchers (employed elsewhere) and/or former members of the full-time academic staff or a lecturer in an ancillary course which is not a key research area at the department. In these cases, the non-tenured associate professors also contribute with educational standards towards the study programme.
Development of study programmes and teaching
The head of studies holds the overall responsibility for developing the study programme academically and qualitatively in cooperation with the board of studies. The head of studies is always a member of the full-time academic staff. The academic development of the study programme and teaching is predominantly carried out by full-time academic staff. It is important that not only full-time academic staff, but also part-time academic staff have the opportunity to contribute to the development of the study programmes. Teaching conducted by full-time as well as part-time academic staff is evaluated and both full-time and part-time academic staff are responsible for following up on the evaluation results and consider whether the results of the evaluations should lead to changes in the course, the teaching or competence development. If relevant, see the procedure for course evaluations. Part-time academic staff also have the opportunity to suggest new courses.
Securing and safeguarding pedagogical competencies and skills development
The prerequisite for successful research-based teaching is that pedagogical competencies among full-time and part-time academic staff are assigned an explicit and unmistakable priority. The Faculty focuses on securing and safeguarding pedagogical competencies, both in connection with the recruitment of full-time and part-time academic staff as well as during the employment.
The Faculty’s offers and requirements to full-time and part-time academic staff in relation to skills development are available here: http://socialsciences.ku.dk/faculty/quality-assurance/lecturers-competences/skills-development/. In cooperation with top-level and general staff, the Teaching and Learning Unit of Social Sciences develops and expands course offers on an ongoing basis. Top-level staff at the Faculty (the dean and the heads of department) regard it as their duty to offer pedagogical skills development to full-time and part-time academic staff and the number of course participants on the courses offered by the Teaching and Learning Unit of Social Sciences is calculated on an annual basis. Full-time and part-time academic staff are entitled and obliged to skills development, among other things by engaging in pedagogical skills development. The head of department conducts an annual PDR with each and every member of the academic staff during which any need or requests for skills development will be discussed.
Non-tenured associate professors and other part-time academic staff’s academic integration in the academic environment of the study programme
The Faculty attaches importance to the fact that non-tenured associate professors have good teaching qualifications and are anchored in an academic environment. For example in the department’s research groups or in the academic environment, if the non-tenured associate professor holds their principal position in a public or private organization or company.
It is important that non-tenured associate professors are academically integrated to the research environment behind the study programme. Some of the non-tenured associate professors participate in teams and/or research groups at the department, which allows for knowledge sharing and dialogue.
The head of studies and the head of department are jointly responsible for ensuring that non-tenured associate professors are academically integrated in the various activities of the department. Like members of the full-time academic staff, non-tenured associate professors receive information about calls for courses, exams, curricula, grading practice and all other important matters. Part-time academic staff are invited to meetings and events, such as ‘Department Day’, pedagogical theme meetings, meetings for full-time academic staff about teaching, meetings in research groups within their field, 'Bachelor Day' in the course of which the BSc degree programme is discussed, meetings on grading level and criteria and similar meetings. If relevant, part-time academic staff participate in meetings in relation to the planning, teaching, evaluation and grading of assignments etc.