AU Learning and Teaching Strategy, 2019-2022
Aberystwyth Pedagogical Excellence (APEX) Strategy
This is Aberystwyth University’s overarching Learning and Teaching Strategy, the APEX Strategy. Aligned with the University Strategic Plan 2018-2023 “Towards the Next 150 Years”, the APEX Strategy plays a vital part in securing and enhancing the University’s excellent reputation for learning and teaching. The University will achieve this by building upon Aberystwyth’s national reputation for providing a first-class student experience by placing its work with students as partners at the heart of the strategy and co-operating closely with other University strategic initiatives in research, language medium, equality and diversity, student/staff well-being and graduate employability.
The APEX Strategy establishes a significant enhancement project across the institution, as well as several other key projects relating to the improvement of the student and staff experience in the area of learning and teaching. It also maintains ongoing innovations and the excellence for which we are already known. Collectively, these directions will allow the University to consolidate and enrich its ambitions in digital teaching, student and staff well-being and overall quality assurance; while building upon the long-standing hallmarks of academic excellence in an historic, bilingual, research-led Welsh institution that promotes the values of inclusivity, collaboration, transformation, innovation and ambition.
Aberystwyth University is a small- to medium-sized University that is widely recognised for its excellence in student satisfaction and learning and teaching:
- High NSS (First in Wales) scores since 2015
- The first UK University to be voted Times University of the Year for Teaching Quality in successive years (2018, 2019)
- Awarded a TEF Institution Gold ranking (2018)
- Regular winner in WhatUni awards (Gold in the Postgraduate category for a second consecutive year; Silver in the University of the Year and International categories)
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Aberystwyth University punches above its weight in the area of Learning and Teaching. Student satisfaction with the quality of teaching and the quality of life at the University is consistently high, a success that is due to the exceptional commitment, dedication and expertise of our staff. Frequent accolades demonstrate not only that Aberystwyth is an outstanding university, but also that Wales is the best place to study in the UK; and this strategy will build on our strengths to ensure the best possible education experience for our undergraduates and postgraduates. With our accolades for the student experience, learning resources and teaching excellence, we can be rightly proud of the practices, innovations and rigour that our university staff bring to this dimension of teaching. However, in order to keep at the forefront, Aberystwyth University needs to continually learn about the cutting-edge developments in the sector, to adapt our teaching techniques to meet the changing needs of student cohorts, and to promote the ethos of students and staff working as partners in a variety of ways.
As a means of developing a digitally aware, actively engaged, culturally sensitive, and globally employable graduate, these goals will form the core aspirations of the Aberystwyth Pedagogical Excellence (APEX) Strategy – or the new Aberystwyth University Learning and Teaching Strategy. Reaching the apex of achievement: as our University Strategic Plan states, we want to empower students to attain their potential, to become free and independent critical thinkers, and to do so in a supportive, inclusive and creative bilingual environment. With Benjamin Franklin’s words ringing in our ears, the APEX Strategy will principally aim to invigorate and extend a campus-wide debate about various aspects and ways of teaching – What does it mean to involve someone in their learning? What is the relationship of our teaching to our research? How can we deepen the student-as-partners relationship? How can we extend our use of the digital sphere in our teaching? How can we integrate the digital with other more embodied and physical modes of learning? – and drive our ambitions over the next three years to remain an institution that is internationally recognised for teaching innovation, learning partnership and general well-being.
The general Action Plan that accompanies the APEX Strategy, sets out a series of areas for enhancement and development, and existing areas that form part of the ongoing University pedagogical and student experience activities. It is expected that all areas covered by the APEX Strategy will embrace both Welsh-medium delivery and experience, and the activities and experience of the postgraduate community, although a large proportion of these two areas falls under the remit of other distinct strategies. Nevertheless, it is understood that different strategies overlap, and where synergies can be built (i.e. between research and teaching), it is hoped that these can be developed into specific projects.
Purpose and Aims
The purpose of the APEX Strategy is to establish a framework for the activities that will enhance the bilingual learning and teaching environment of the University over the next three years. The APEX Strategy aims to provide the University with a blend of new initiatives and the management of existing developments in order to respond to changing student expectations and learning practices:
- To maintain and develop the University’s reputation for excellence in learning and teaching
- To deepen and extend the student-as-partners relationship
- To develop a healthy and supportive learning and teaching environment for new and existing students and staff alike, that is innovative, inspirational and enables transformative learning
- To deliver an enhancement project that aims to engage staff and students in active learning
- To ensure a smooth and welcoming transition from school to University for new students and to enhance the retention and engagement of existing students throughout the University
- To ensure that the University’s graduates continue to be well-prepared for their future lives in employment
- To ensure the continual relevance of the University’s portfolio through the refreshment of the portfolio through new provision and the deletion of out-of-date schemes
Measures of Success
The APEX Strategy covers a range of differing areas of activity, some that are quantitative and others that are qualitative. We will measure the success of the APEX Strategy through various individual quantitative measures that exist in relation to the University Strategy and existing KPIs. These will include relevant performance indicators covering:
- Improvements in NSS and Module Evaluation scores
- Improvements in the Information Services survey
- Improvements in graduate level employment or further study
- Improvements the retention rate of students year-on-year
- Improvements in the University Good Honours rates
- Increasing postgraduate satisfaction
- Ensuring future positive TEF outcomes
In order to implement the strategy, the University has developed a general Action Plan that links our APEX Strategy and the University’s strategic priorities. This schedule of activity will be monitored by the University’s Academic Board and the Faculty Academic Affairs Committees. The APEX Strategy will undergo an annual evaluation and be linked to a clearly established set of targets that are reviewed each year.