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The TEA Sandpit

Elizabeth Parkin

Elizabeth Parkin

Programmes Manager, University Alliance

Published on October 19, 2017


The UA Teaching Excellence Alliance staged a landmark event with our Sandpit on 12 and 13 September 2017. With over 60 people from across our member universities, we drew on a depth of experience and expertise to push the boundaries of programme design. We also discussed how the Teaching Excellence Alliance should develop.

Sam Grogan, Director of the Teaching Excellence Alliance, sets out the plan for the Sandpit

So what did we do and what did we learn?

We explored our understanding of the distinctive qualities of UA education. Senior managers, team members, students and other staff all share a clear set of values about the importance of supporting each and every student and engaging with the world of work in the technical and professional education they provide.

We asked participants to conceive and plan an undergraduate programme to address the problems of an ageing global population in 24 hours based on these values. They did this really well. We found that the intensity of the process was an aid, not an obstacle. It fostered creativity, focus and team-working.

Finally, we reflected on how we could apply the lessons learned from the design task to our own teams when they are designing and developing courses.

We agreed that giving staff time away from other distractions to work intensively on course design really worked. We also noted the value of bringing together mixed disciplinary teams into a non-hierarchical environment with an openness to innovation. Many participants felt that this can be achieved in the normal environment of our universities.

Find out more about the TEA, including case studies from our universities, here.

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