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Professional Development Framework

The National Professional Development Framework for all staff who teach in Irish Higher Education was launched by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education in August 2016. It seeks to provide guidance for the professional development (PD) of individuals and gives direction to related stakeholders for planning, developing and engaging in professional development activities.

The PD framework is flexible and inclusive and can be adapted for use by a range of staff who teach in Higher Education, including academic staff across all disciplines, educational/learning technologists, academic developers, research staff, library staff and support staff. The Framework recognises the breadth of PD activities with which Higher Education staff engage, ranging from formal to informal activities and encompassing both accredited and non-accredited development.

To see how the PD framework was implemented in a series of pilot studies, see the National Forum's PD Resource Hub.

The Five Domains

Click on the relevant headings below for summaries of each of the five domains encompassed by the framework, or read about the National Professional Development Framework at the National Forum website.

This domain emphasises the personal values, perspectives and emotions that individuals bring to their teaching, including self-awareness, confidence, life experience and the affective aspects associated with teaching. It makes transparent the importance of the personal values that underpin any human interaction, especially those needed for authentic, engaged teaching and how these values are impacted by the work context. In addition, this domain encourages the exploration of the positive and negative emotions and personal characteristics that impact on teaching, e.g. confidence, enthusiasm, commitment, anxiety and frustration. This domain plays an important role in helping staff to understand and declare their teaching philosophy and approach. It recognises the importance of personal wellbeing and the significant impact this has on individual teaching and learning roles.

This domain emphasises the importance of the development and self-evaluation of professional/disciplinary identity and its associated roles, responsibilities and action plans. It encourages staff to consider their professional and/or disciplinary identity in their context (for example, an academic staff member, an educational technologist, learning support staff who teach, etc.) at a particular point in time. This domain supports the development of staff’s critical reflection skills and the evaluation of their teaching. In particular, it emphasises the importance of the development of the scholarship of teaching and learning. Some key professional values are identified. The importance of planning for professional development activities in institutional or other contexts is also highlighted as part of this domain.

At the core of this domain is the importance of the excellent, clear and coherent communication skills required for the changing learning environment. It emphasises the key skills of written/verbal/visual communication, listening, dialogue and collaboration with others in the professional learning process. It recognises the importance of teaching and learning in a community to enhance student learning. The social dimension of professional learning is emphasised, and it recognises the role that communities of practice and networks play in supporting this locally, nationally and internationally; and within and across disciplines.

This domain emphasises the importance of both disciplinary knowledge and disciplinary approaches to teaching (disciplinary pedagogies), while also drawing on inter-disciplinary experiences and approaches. It supports an active student role in the learning process, moving toward a partnership in the teaching and learning process, essential in the higher education environment. It incorporates staff’s capacity to design and implement innovative and creative teaching and learning approaches at different levels of curriculum. The importance of assessment and feedback is emphasised, in particular the move to a more learner-oriented and dialogic feedback approach for students and balance in the assessment of/for/as learning. The role of underpinning theories of learning and staff’s knowledge and contribution to teaching and learning policies, procedures and scholarship is also highlighted.

This domain emphasises the importance of personal and professional digital capacity and the application of digital skills and knowledge to professional practice. The domain focuses on the development of personal confidence in digital skills to develop professional competence and the identification of opportunities for technology to support and enhance student learning. This domain is underpinned by the National Digital Skills Framework for Education.