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Oct 09, 2019 11:59 PM EDT

Teaching Excellence Framework Boosts Employability

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The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a project that helps students identify the university where they are fit to study. The program gets a boost to highlight the employability of students when they earn their degree. According to a new study whose results were published in the Educational Review journal, the program is prepared to encourage institutions to hire new graduates. 

Since it was crafted, TEF became a measurement of the quality of teaching in the universities in the UK. In 2017, participating universities were awarded bronze, silver, and gold for excellence in teaching. The institutions were carefully evaluated based on the information they provided to potential students. Using quantitative measures, the universities were assessed through their 15-page 'provider submission' where they presented their teaching quality. 

Dr. Ben Kotzee and Adam Mathews of the University of Birmingham conducted the first study of its kind. They utilized the corpus linguistic methods in evaluating the 15-page document that the universities submitted. They looked into identifiable patterns and key terms. 

The researchers discovered that the universities that used the terms "employability," "employment," and "outcomes" received the highest possible outcome. The results of such assessment greatly impact the university's chances of earning a bronze, silver or gold on the TEF awards. 

The academe revolves around the ideas of teaching and research. They need to teach their students proper research to achieve excellence. This is to ensure that universities live by their purpose as the source of higher education. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) and TEF have become regulatory frameworks to measure the quality of service universities provide their students. 

The team carefully evaluated the language used in all the 228 statements that were submitted for consideration in the 2017 TEF awards. Their analysis showed the words like "employment" are the same ones found in the TEF guidelines. This suggests that future submissions of that university will simply mimic or mirror back the approved language of the given guidelines. 

Reading the selection in depth, the successful submissions were acceptable as long as they help demonstrate the initiatives of the university. The goal is to put into words the efforts of the university to produce top notch graduates. Criticisms on TEF including those that ask about the quality and accuracy were simply classified as unsuccessful attempts.

However good the intentions may be, critics of TEF see it as limiting. It focuses significantly on employability of graduates and downgrades the idea of higher education for personal development or for social good. The program simply puts education in the discourse where universities produce employable graduates. It further drowns out education for all its other purposes. 

The TEF award focuses on recognizing universities for their efforts to provide excellent teaching and learning experience for their students. The  type of discourse that convey their desire to teach excellence is what TEF is all about. It aims to teach excellence. Therefore, researchers expect that the discourses in universities and job applications to revolve around the 'quality of teaching'. 

The TEF evaluation has provided the universities with an avenue to pursue excellence in teaching. More importantly, students are given the opportunity to become more employable for a better future ahead.

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