As the first HE institution in Norway, the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, University of Bergen, (MN-UiB) has invited teachers to apply for status as Excellent teaching practitioner (ETP) and membership in the Pedagogical Academy. The merit system was initiated in 2016 as a pilot project lasting for five years, and is inspired by the Pedagogical Academy at Faculty of Engineering (LTH), Lunds University in Sweden. bioCEED has been a driving force to establish the merit system for teaching at UiB with criteria based on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL).
The idea of rewarding excellence in teaching is based on clear intentions on a governmental and institutional level to give research and education equal status and attention in the scientific community. In the recently published White Paper on Educational quality merit systems are one of the mechanisms for developing a quality culture in higher education, and will be implemented at all Norwegian HEIs by 2019.
ETP status is awarded to teachers based on an application, and subsequent evaluation and interview by an evaluation committee. The status will lead to a permanent rise in salary for the individual teacher. Applicants must describe, analyse, discuss and document systematic work with educational quality in their own teaching practice, toward four main criteria based on the principles of SoTL:
- Focus on student learning
- Clear development over time
- A scholarly approach
- A collegial attitude and practice
It was important during the development of the merit system to underline the cultural aspect of the system. Although it rewards individuals, the desired outcome is a collegial and scholarly teacher culture, which will benefit the entire organization. ETP awarded teachers are therefore appointed members of the Faculty’s Pedagogical Academy. The Academy will be an integral part of the merit system, and secures the development of a collegial SoTL-culture.
The first deadline for applying was 31 January 2017, and the Faculty received 20 applications from several departments and a range of disciplines, each accompanied by reflective teaching portfolios and documentation.
The merit system has sparked debate, both locally and nationally, on topics like approaches to teaching, rewards and incentives and what is quality in teaching.