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Teachers at LTH are getting better and better

Teaching staff at the Faculty of Engineering (LTH) are getting better and better every year. From a unique set of statistics based on 300,000 questionnaires, it can be concluded that teaching has been systematically improved over the last 20 years. An important part of the explanation is a system that gives good teaching staff a higher salary, something introduced at LTH in 2001 and that has since spread to more than 50 higher education institutions in the Nordic countries.

Jonas Andersson – Published 20 March 2024

picture of students
The teachers are getting better and better. The students in the picture are an illustration of a study environment. Photo: Charlotte Carlberg Bärg

“We can clearly show that students think things are getting better and better. No other faculty has figures like these. This is proof that it is possible to develop academic teaching in the long term,” says Torgny Roxå, associate professor and educational developer at the Centre for Engineering Education (CEE) at LTH.

Students report better feedback from teaching staff, more enthusiasm for teaching, more clearly described objectives and assessment that is more oriented towards understanding, as well as greater interest in how students tackle difficult issues in their courses. LTH is measurably better at teaching today than 20 years ago.

Systematic effort

This is the result of a very long-term and systematic effort in which LTH's teaching staff have been involved. The work began in the 1990s with courses in teaching and learning, after the government provided funding for such a programme.

“At the time, a lot of people didn't think it was worthwhile, but that attitude has changed considerably since then,” says Torgny Roxå.

Around the turn of the millennium, a comprehensive programme for educational development was produced, which has since been known as Genombrottet (the Breakthrough). In 2001, LTH introduced ETP – Excellent Teaching Practitioner. It is a system whereby teaching staff who are particularly outstanding in their teaching can apply for the ETP qualification, which is assessed according to a defined assessment process. 

Greater focus on student learning

If you fulfil the conditions, you will receive the same salary increase as when you become an associate professor, as well as the title and diploma. In addition, the department where you have a permanent post and are active for at least 50 per cent of working hours receives an additional allocation, which is also equivalent to that of an associate professor.

“We have analysed this, and it is clear that teaching staff are getting better. They have a greater focus on student learning. We also notice that the dialogue between teaching staff members is changing, there are more and better discussions about teaching,” says Torgny Roxå.

More evidence of the system being a good one is provided by many other higher education institutions around the Nordic region having been inspired by LTH's concept. More than 50 higher education institutions have introduced similar reward schemes.

Reflect on your teaching

Besides the reward system, course evaluations and teaching and learning in higher education courses, we have a database of around 600 texts which teaching staff members have written about teaching for other teaching practitioners.

“It is important to reflect on your teaching. This requires good teaching practitioners who know what they are doing and who systematically reflect on their work. It is not enough to just have opinions about education, it should be based on awareness and knowledge,” says Torgny Roxå.

Jesper Samuelsson, who is a student teaching assistant at CEE and has extensive experience of student life both as a student and as a full-time employee at Teknologkåren (the Faculty of Engineering Student Union), feels that among students, awareness of the systematic teaching and learning initiative is not that great.

“Awareness of different development programmes for teaching staff is probably generally quite low, although I think many people know that teaching staff attend courses on teaching and learning in higher education. Students do, however, notice if a staff member is good at teaching.”

Samuelsson himself is working on a project about the factors that affect student attendance and absence in classroom teaching. The work is not yet complete, but the aim is for some conclusions to be presented by the summer. It is hoped that this will provide insights into the students' learning process that can be useful in course design.

“In general, LTH has a weakness in not treating students as agents who participate in the development of teaching. We know that students do better if they are invited into the process and treated as full members. This is an area for development,” says Torgny Roxå.

Key facts Excellent Teaching Practitioner (ETP)

LTH invites its teaching staff (not doctoral students) to apply to have their pedagogical merits assessed and to be admitted to LTH's Pedagogical Academy. All teaching staff members who are successful in their applications are awarded the qualification of Excellent Teaching Practitioner (ETP) 

  • The ETP applicant should have not only a number of years’ experience of teaching students, but also of developing teaching, courses or otherwise changing student learning for the better. The applicant should critically reflect on improvements in teaching in their application for the ETP. It is important to practise reflecting on how students' learning relates to your own teaching.
  • All teaching staff at LTH (not doctoral students) can apply to have their teaching qualifications assessed to obtain the ETP qualification. The ETP comes with an immediate salary increase equivalent to that of an associate professor. The department where the teaching staff member is active for at least 50 per cent of their working hours will also receive an increased allocation (SEK 150,000), the same amount as they receive when someone becomes an associate professor. This allocation comes from LTH's budget, i.e. all the other departments.
  • Teaching staff members who apply must be able to problematise and reflect on their actions in teaching and learning in higher education with the help of relevant literature and other sources, and be able to show how they have developed their thinking and practice.
  • The application is assessed according to established criteria that include assessment by three teaching staff members who have already received ETP and who come from different departments within LTH, and an external assessor from another higher education institution. The Student Union also makes a statement. The final decision is made by the Careers Board at LTH.
  • Since its launch in 2001, 155 teaching staff members have been awarded the ETP title. Approximately 40 per cent of applications are approved.

ETP on LTH weppage