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Brunel wins new UK-wide award for teaching excellence


Brunel University London has been awarded one of six new Collaborative Awards for Teaching Excellence (CATE) from the Higher Education Academy, in recognition of the University’s innovative approaches to teaching and learning.

Funded by HEFCE, HEFCW and Department for the Economy Northern Ireland, the CATE award winners were announced at the Merchant Taylors' Hall, London, on 25 January 2017.

The award, which is in its pilot year, recognises teaching excellence by teams at higher education providers. The collaborative award is an important development which reflects the key role that teamwork has in promoting student success through learning and teaching.

The criteria for the CATE award are: 'excellent practice', teamwork, and the team's dissemination plan. Teams need to show direct student involvement in their work and excellent practice in relation to one of a number of themes.

Brunel’s Biosciences team has done just that. Sixteen academics who teach on the BSc Biomedical Sciences programme came together to eliminate the compartmentalised approach to learning experienced by students on modular programmes and to reduce the assessment load for students and staff.

The team’s holistic and authentic approach to assessment requires links to be made between subject topics and facilitates integration and application of knowledge. It also ensures that graduates are able to evaluate, communicate and make use of complex information.

This approach – Integrated Programme Assessment (IPA) – has resulted in improved National Student Survey (NSS) scores, improved degree outcomes and higher graduate level employment rates. BSc Biomedical Sciences was ranked second in London for overall satisfaction in the 2016 NSS.

For Brunel, IPA has demonstrated the feasibility and benefit of separating study and assessment, leading to revision of regulations for postgraduate degrees. It has helped revise approaches across the University to programme design and development, and led to the formal inclusion of students in programme design teams and approval panels.

Brunel is one of 15 institutions who were shortlisted for the award. The six winning institutions receive grants of £15,000 to disseminate their learning throughout the higher education sector.