Today, with colleagues from the Universities of Bath, Sunderland and Northumbria, we presented our joint paper at the ACM Computing Education Practice Conference (CEP’21). This paper focuses on our recent work in understanding how we can better support early-career computer science academics in the UK, especially in developing and promoting high-quality, discipline-specific approaches to learning, teaching and assessment.
Supporting Early-Career Academics in the UK Computer Science Community
Tom Crick, James H. Davenport, Alan Hayes, Alastair Irons and Tom Prickett
The early career of a computer science academic in the United Kingdom (UK) — as with most other disciplines — is challenging in terms of balancing research aspirations, learning and teaching responsibilities, wider academic service commitments, as well as their own professional development. In terms of learning and teaching development, this commonly involves working towards Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (now known as Advance HE), either by direct application or via successful completion of an accredited institutional taught postgraduate course. Typically, if a course is required (often as part of their academic probation), the focus will be general higher education learning and teaching pedagogy rather than specifically focused on computer science and cognate areas. The formal institutional course requirements are normally supplemented by mentoring from within their department from experienced academic colleagues. Thus, the quality of development for an early-career academic will be enhanced in part by the strength of the community of practice operating within the department and the communities of practice that exist at a national and international level, often through professional bodies, learned societies and sub-disciplinary groupings. This paper presents the work-in-progress to address some of these structural, cultural and community challenges at both the institutional and national level in the UK, based on empirical themes collected from a workshop held at UKICER’20. We identify a number of specific actions and recommendations to supplement the current formal institutional requirements with enhanced national-level academic practice sup- port and professional development, alongside local and regional professional mentoring.
Keywords: Early-career academics, community of practice, professional development, computer science education
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