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Italy by storm: developing strategic partnerships

Date 11.11.2015

​​​Dr Cristina Devecchi, School of Education, Professor Ale Armellini and Ms Shirley Bennett, Institute of Learning and Teaching, recently spent a week in Rome and Padova, Italy, where they undertook a variety of activities ranging from consultancy and develivering workshops, to teaching and attending conferences.

Promoting C@N-DO and UKPSF: collaborating to build teaching quality and enhancing intellectual capital

As part of the modernisation of the Higher Education agenda, Italian universities are developing systems for quality assurance, which include continuing professional development and recognition of teaching competences for staff, and the establishment of teaching learning centres. The University of Northampton was chosen, among few other international colleagues, as one of the models of good practice.

Shirley Bennett and Dr Devecchi presented the work of ILT and the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) at the Associazione Nazionale per la Valutazione del Sistema Universitario e di Ricerca (ANVUR) in Rome. This is the Italian national body responsible for the evaluation of research and teaching, a combination of our QAA and HEFCE.

In addition, Professor Armellini delivered a presentation on professional recognition and academic staff development for HE staff at the PRODID international conference at the University of Padova (PRODID stands for “Teaching Professionalization and Pedagogic Innovation”).

Dr Devecchi also presented at the PRODID conference taking part at a roundtable discussing how to develop CPD for lecturers further.

Dr Devecchi speaking in Italy

From teachers as researchers, to teachers as entrepreneurs of knowledge

As part of the Erasmus Mobility agreement, Dr Devecchi had the opportunity to teach a group of 150 fourth year undergraduate students in Education. The lesson provide Italian students with an overview of how practitioner research has developed in the UK. The lesson put forward the idea that teachers are not only researchers, but they should also embrace entrepreneurial ways as part of their teaching strategies and competences.

Building an inclusive university: contributing to student experience

Dr Devecchi was also invited to present her work on inclusion at the IN-DEEP (Inclusive Development and Enhancing Pedagogy) project which she joined as a scientific consultant. The project brought together academics, professional services and above all students with disabilities at the Universities of Padova and Turin to explore how universities support inclusion and diversity. Dr Devecchi contributed by focusing on the practical consequences of disclosure – or lack – of disability on how universities can deploy human, financial and material resources in an efficient, effective and fair way.

Along similar participatory lines, Dr Devecchi also established and strengthened key partnerships with the delegate for Universities at the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities in Research in Rome in regard to the ‘Voices in Higher Education’ Erasmus Plus Project currently under development. The project would bring together students, lecturers, and professional services to compare EU practice with regard to student engagement and participation with the aim of outlining EU wide guidelines of good practice.

Conference panel in Italy

The visit included teaching and training but also scholarly and relational activities, which have resulted in raising awareness of the academic and staff development work carried out in our university at both the local and national Italian level, and in an increased interest and requests to sign further Erasmus agreements with our School and various universities including Genova, Florence and Turin. Dr Devecchi has been invited to continue contributing to the debate of how to modernize Italian universities, specifically in relation to teaching QA and QE and staff professional development by the PVC for Teaching and Learning, Universita’ La Sapienza in Rome; and she has been invited to present at the conference on how to build an inclusive Higher Education system at the University of Turin in May 2016.