Welcome to the Centre for Innovation in Higher Education

Simon Pratt-Adams

Category: Centre for Innovation in Higher Education

8 August 2018

In recent years, academics across Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) have actively engaged in a concerted and deliberate effort to drive up the quality of learning, teaching & assessment across all taught courses.

The impact of these efforts is evidenced in improved National Student Survey (NSS) outcomes, improved module evaluation scores and improvements in the % of undergraduate students achieving good degrees. Additionally the Higher Education Academy (now Advance HE) approved Anglia Ruskin Professional Recognition Scheme has led to sector-leading numbers of Principal and Senior Fellows as well as a National Teaching Fellow in 2014, 2016 and 2017. Our nominated team were finalists for the first Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence, also in 2017. This is all fantastically encouraging and testament to the dedication and quality of our staff. We’re hosting an increasing number of enquiries and visits from other universities, presenting at conferences – including invited keynotes, contributing to working groups, and winning learning- and teaching-focused bids on the basis of our track record and impressive improvements.

The next step has been to harness these efforts, along with the work Anglia Learning & Teaching (ALT) has already been doing over the last few years, to develop a pedagogic research community research, & to establish an applied research Centre for Innovation in Higher Education (CIHE). The idea for this came from our Vice Chancellor Professor Iain Martin in early 2017 who requested Sharon Waller, Head of ALT to make plans to set a centre up in Cambridge.

It is intended that we’ll work collaboratively with ALT, Faculties and other ARU research centres and institutes. In particular, we’re keen to develop engagement with our Departments of Education. The specific mission of CIHE is to:

  • Establish an educational laboratory model to drive research-informed innovations in HE teaching, learning & assessment to improve student outcomes
  • Enhance pedagogic research and scholarship in ARU and beyond
  • Contribute high quality research outputs worthy of inclusion in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and enable a wider range of academic staff to contribute to the next REF
  • Enhance our Learning & Teaching profile by showcasing ARU strengths and distinctiveness; across ARU but also both nationally & internationally and improve student outcomes
  • Develop and embed key partnerships across the HE secto;
  • Create revenue streams to support pedagogic research activities.

Initially, our focus is on three specialist areas that represent ARU strengths, and in which the ALT academic team has expertise. These are:

  • Digital Futures – developing a digitally capable organisation, enabling digital skills of staff and students to flourish.
  • Active Learning – including assessment and feedback, inclusive learning, teaching & assessment
  • Design Thinking Pedagogies – informing curriculum design and teaching, including incubation of innovations in learning & teaching.  

CIHE will enable maximisation of current scholarship and practice in these areas. The institutional focus on measuring Learning Gain and the use of Learning Analytics will underpin them.

We want to develop the unique selling point of innovations in pedagogy and pedagogical research in HE, consolidating the work of our pedagogic research community. Our work has emerged at a time of increasing emphasis on the importance of multidisciplinary research across the HE sector with the advent of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) and the Stern Review of the Research Excellence Framework (REF). The Stern Review recommends that the potential breadth and depth of impact should be emphasised in terms of research leading to major impacts on curricula and/or pedagogy. As universities increasingly prioritise teaching excellence, work on pedagogic research with its focus on learning & teaching will contribute to improving their educational strategies.

In my next blog I’ll talk about the plans for CIHE in the coming months and how you can get involved.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.