SEDA Spring Teaching Learning and Assessment Conference 2017

The quest for teaching excellence and learning gain: issues, resolutions and possibilities

11 May 2017 - 12 May 2017

Location: Marriott Victoria and Albert Hotel, Manchester

SEDA Spring Conference 2017 Handbook

SEDA Spring Conference 2017 Feedback Form

SEDA Spring Conference 2017 Presentations


Higher and Further Education are under pressure to both deliver and demonstrate teaching excellence. This pressure has probably never been as intense as it is today, and is likely to increase as we experience new quality regimes such as the TEF and our students become more demanding in terms of ‘value for money’. As well as these increasing pressures from different stakeholders, there has been the growing critique that post-16 education is not having sufficient impact on students’ broader intellectual development – as in the studies and initiatives inspired by the publication of ‘Academically Adrift’ in the USA which questioned whether many students “are actually developing the capacity for critical thinking and complex reasoning at college.” (1)

The publication of Academically Adrift in 2010 raised concerns about the nature and extent of learning gain which students can expect to experience over their college and university careers. These concerns have since crossed the Atlantic. In 2015, the English funding body, HEFCE, held the first UK conference on learning gain and announced that ‘A total of 12 collaborative projects, including over 70 universities and colleges, will receive £4 million over three years to run pilot projects that will test and evaluate measures of learning gain in English higher education.’ (2)

Alongside this increasing pressures and concerns, we have seen the emergence of a wide variety of new approaches and techniques, ranging from initiatives to engage students as ‘producers’ or ‘co-creators’ through to interventions based on learning analytics. Given this range of initiatives, which are the most effective strategies in terms of impact on student learning?

This conference will examine how HE and FE can respond to this new environment and offer both conceptual/theoretical analysis and practical techniques to help us move forward.

The conference will be valuable and relevant to a wide range of staff in HE and FE who need to be familiar with the most recent evidence on initiatives to develop/improve teaching excellence and learning gain. This includes educational developers, heads of learning and teaching, course leaders, and staff involved in quality assurance/enhancement. We also welcome students involved in these activities to come and share their experience.


  • Definitions and measurement of teaching excellence and learning gain: issues and implications.
  • Institutional and departmental initiatives to achieve teaching excellence: outcomes and evaluation.
  • Factors underpinning and influencing excellence: learning environments, learning technologies, and institutional context.
  • Staff and student perspectives on teaching excellence and learning gain.
  • The role of assessment and feedback in learning gain.


1. Arum, R. and Roksa, J. (2010) Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. University of Chicago Press.


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