How enterprise educators can benefit from changes to Advance HE’s Professional Standards Framework
Updating a longstanding framework is never an easy task, however, I have found the UK Professional Standards Framework (PSF) to be both very helpful and easy to follow. Whilst completing fellowship applications over the years, using both the Chartered ABS's Certifed Management & Business Educator and CPD process and the PSF, I have been able to relate to the dimensions and criteria, and it has been both a rewarding and enlightening experience. Additionally though, and more importantly, it has allowed me to reflect on two things.
Firstly, I was able to look back on the progress that I have made in my academic career. A reflective account through following the PSF criteria leads to skills that have been acquired to be more greatly understood, as well as identify areas for improvement.
Secondly, I pondered on what I can add to the classroom in my session planning, assessment strategy, and formative activities to name a few. The value of implementing new approaches and perspectives must be questioned. What is the purpose? What are the hopeful outcomes?
The new PSF, to be launched in 2023, looks set to include some refreshing changes, which I believe highlight similar ideals and values to that of the Chartered ABS and Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and the field of enterprise and entrepreneurship education, in general – which business schools should take note, in enhancing their practical learning environments. As I have said previously, the importance and ongoing benefits of CPD opportunities offered through the CMBE, and the PSF, should influence what we do within business schools, and in our entrepreneurial efforts.
The importance of the PSF
The current draft of the proposed PSF for 2023 and beyond displays some fresh changes, and is the outcome, so far, of many months of review and years of discussion and debate.
Since 2011, the current PSF, includes three distinct sets of dimensions. These dimensions consist of four Professional Values (V), six Core Knowledge elements (K), and five Areas of Activity (A) stated against progressive descriptors and fellowship levels, outline the expected aspects, duties, and responsibilities of educators within the university environment.
They encourage knowledge, activity, and skills development; the impact of teaching and learning; and, provide structured motivation for educators to progress in their professional roles. In essence, creating an emboldening, as well as educating experience for students should be central in all that we do as educators. The standards framework supports this ambition through a balance of both a technical and thematic approach.
Connecting classroom considerations and CPD
Interestingly, three critical strands have so far been included in the current draft’s integrated components. These are (1) Inclusion, (2) Context, and (3) Effectiveness. These strands are certainly a productive and welcome addition to the PSF. Of interest to the Chartered ABS, this also aligns with the aims of its CMBE qualification, which is rooted in committing to CPD and developmental activity, stakeholder engagement and inclusivity, encouraging leadership within the sector, and both recording and measuring outcomes and outputs.
Immediately, I was able to relate these draft PSF strands within my own teaching, research, and consultancy work throughout the years. I focus these activities in the areas of enterprise education and entrepreneurship development within or outwith the classroom. This includes multi-level enterprise teaching and research activity, facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD) workshops such as those with the Chartered ABS, supporting current student or graduate stage start-ups, or assisting in the growth of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) through individual consultancy or team-based approaches.
Within a business school or university-wide, enterprising context in particular, the strands inclusion, context, and effectiveness align with overarching notions of enterprise. They relate to core values of enterprise in terms of societal awareness, understanding business environments, and in making a valuable difference to communities, regions, and nations.
Ensuring that teaching and learning spaces provide and sustain an equity of opportunity is vital within our universities. I believe that the addition of this strand, as well as promoting the wider importance of equality and diversity, echoes one of the Chartered ABS’ 2022-23 priorities concerning EDI activities and further amplifies the benefits of taught disciplines such as enterprise, and economic development. I say this as enterprise and economic development, for the benefit of others within the greater society, is a team sport. It is a collective effort. Therefore, the emphasis of inclusion here only contributes positively to the ideas and beliefs that inspire courses and programmes including enterprise, which aim to make real difference towards change.
Understanding a given situation, topic, and applying suitable methods to assist a student’s learning is also important, and as I have said reflects the nature of enterprise and its related, pragmatic forms of teaching. The question of context within education allows for a broad discussion of what works best, and when to introduce different styles and perspectives to the curriculum and classroom. For enterprise this is no different, in responding to industry needs concerning creativity and innovation, related courses lean towards utilising a wide variety of formative and summative approaches and assessments. This also includes the welcome participation of educators and guest speakers from all walks of life, as well as considering student-centric and social reconstructive viewpoints. Discussions of context allow us all, as the Chartered ABS also allude to in their mission, to consider impact, stakeholders, and creating longstanding networks.
The third strand, effectiveness, including the evaluation and measurement of teaching practice, approaches, and assessment strategies, as well as appreciating the impact of the learning environment must always be at the forefront of our minds within higher education. What is the end goal and has it been achieved? The effectiveness strand also distinctively relates to enterprise in terms of skills acquisition, effective practice in business settings, and evidencing societal benefit and true value.
PSF and the enterprise educator moving forward
It is clear that the PSF continues to be a strong framework in supporting educators and Advance HE fellows as they develop across all levels. The launch in 2023 of a clear and potentially streamlined approach will further reinforce the purpose of the framework and Advance HE, and find commonality with organisations such as the Chartered ABS.
For enterprise educators such as myself, the progressive PSF for 2023 and its continued review and discussions this year, compliment the typical ideals and premise of enterprise (skills based) or entrepreneurship (venture based) education: including problem solving and creativity skills, market awareness and societal concerns, and impact of learning activities and business in practice. Key here, is the application of the PSF dimensions and both the autonomy and flexibility that the framework promotes.
Furthermore, as the PSF of course influences teaching and learning – the impact is wide-reaching across academic disciplines and with regards to ongoing CPD. There is the opportunity to take the upcoming version on board in enhancing the university experience, in order to both suitably educate our students and acutely address social, industry, economic challenges amidst post-pandemic, sector recovery, and cost of living crisis landscapes. Academics should look forward to the launch of the new PSF and be inspired by it, as it promotes the purpose of higher education and assists in moving universities forward through quality teaching and valuable learning.
Dr Robert Crammond CMBE, is a Senior Lecturer in Enterprise at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS)