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Case Study for Postgraduate Certificate in Adult Learning and Professional Development

Lynne’s case study comes from Chapter 2: teaching, training, and communicating

I am currently studying for a Postgraduate Certificate in Adult Learning and Professional Development (PGCALPD). Basically this is a postgraduate qualification for those involved in teaching or learning in Higher Education. The name and style of course vary depending on the institution. They are normally recommended for new lecturers. So why did I decide to follow this route.

I recently moved to my new role as Subject Librarian at UCL. My role includes teaching staff and students about information literacy. I promoted this quite successfully to my departments, so a considerable amount of my time is spent teaching and it is something I really enjoy. While I don’t think my teaching is terrible, I have no real knowledge of teaching theory. It wasn’t included in my MA in Information Studies, I’ve had no formal training in this area, and yet I am free to teach students in the university. At the same time that my thoughts turned to developing my teaching, it also started being mentioned by peers on networks like twitter, occasionally some of library jobs coming up would mention the PGCALPD qualification and then the Librarians as Teachers network was set up and seeing other librarians pursuing this route gave me the final push to apply.

What have I done so far
So far I have been lucky in some ways, I haven’t taken the traditional module about teaching and learning in HE and I am quite glad. I think this may have included too much time spent looking at curriculum planning and other areas that are useful to the university lecturer but perhaps not me. My main module has been about Adult Learning and Professional Development, including looking at how adults learn, reflecting on practice and evaluation. I’ll take further modules during the summer/next year which will hopefully lead to my PGCALPD.

What are the benefits
If your role involves teaching then I would recommend this as a qualification to pursue. For me personally, I have a far greater understanding of how people learn, and can make informed decisions in the design and planning of my teaching. I have a “library” of learning activities that I can use and apply in my teaching. I find it really useful to be in a group of people who teach and are enthusiastic about teaching, there is so much I have learnt from sharing experiences with them.
However there were other reasons that I took the course and one of those was recognition. From doing this course, there is greater recognition, outside the library, of the amount of teaching library staff do. I also hope that the students I teach will benefit, after all my main aim in teaching is to enhance a students learning. Plus, I have a better understanding of how my departments work and how I can fit in better with their teaching and at the most opportune time for the students.

If you do want to go ahead, as with any studying, make sure you have the time to do this, the more you put I in, the more you get out. I also won’t pretend it is easy, especially adapting many of the things you learn to a library environment. To help with this I joined in with the relevant networks; when I have been struggling, it’s been really useful to ask for help from librarians who have been there, understand the theory and can help you relate it to a library. Finally, don’t think the learning will end with the completion of your PGCALPD, this is all about professional development, especially through reflection on practice, what I have learned on my course will stay with me throughout my professional life.

Contributed by Lynne Meehan.

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