Tuesday Ten: 10 questions we ask L & T experts

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Andy Pitchford is the Head of Learning and Teaching in the CLT. He manages the Academic Staff Development Team, Curriculum Development Team, Student Engagement Team and the Technology Enhanced Learning Team. Andy gained his PhD from the University of Gloucestershire, where he has held a variety of leadership roles in HE, most recently as the Director of Sport at the University of Gloucestershire. He was also the recipient of the University of Gloucestershire Research Excellence Award in 2015. Andy is an HEA National Teaching Fellow.

What can you see outside of the window?
On a clear day I can almost see the city and the hills beyond. Wessex House is a bit odd; it's an old Hall of Residence and there are one or two ghosts up here, but we have a great team and it's a lovely place to work.
What does your average day at work involve?
I've been at Bath a year so I'm still getting to know the place, which means my average day involves lots of conversations and lots of cups of coffee. Understanding the varying needs of the different disciplines is fascinating and rewarding and my head is often spinning by the end of the day. That might actually be the coffee though!
Why do you think teaching at your university is important?
Great teaching is transformative. It builds confidence, changes perceptions and creates opportunities. We have some wonderful examples of this at Bath, and it's our job to help people share their good practice and extend their inspiration further.
What do you hope the impact of the CLT will be?
I hope that the Centre for Learning & Teaching will be trusted and respected and that on that basis we will build great partnerships that enhance learning and teaching at the University.

"Great teaching is transformative. It builds confidence, changes perceptions and creates opportunities."

Who has inspired you most in your teaching career?
The leader of my Masters course, a sociologist called Bill Bacon, who sadly passed away last year. He was simultaneously inspiring, funny, challenging and radical. He was totally disorganised, always late, sometimes inexplicably absent and probably very difficult to manage. But we all loved him, largely because he showed an interest in each and every one of us.
When did a lecture go wrong and how did you overcome it?
Oh gosh they all go wrong in some way, but I really don't think that's a bad thing. Some fallibility will help if you want to build a rapport with the group. The more aloof or untouchable you are, the less likely the students will have the confidence to engage or question what you're saying. So you can probably tell from this that I've made lots of mistakes in lectures, and lots of things have gone wrong, but I've always shared my basic intentions with the students and they've generally forgiven me for my errors. Laughter and humility are the best weapons in this context.
Recommend a book, film or album from the past year.
Well, my favourite book was definitely Soviet Bus Stops by Christopher Herwig. If you want an academic text it would be anything that Mike Neary has written recently.
What is the biggest change that you've seen in teaching since you started your career?
Sadly, the biggest change has been the inability of younger students to understand my jokes, all of which are based on clumsy interpretations of British sit-coms from the 1980s and 1990s.
What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in teaching at your university?
Take an interest in the lives and careers of your students. Their adventures will enrich your teaching and your research, and in the longer term their friendship will enrich your life.
What three things would you take to a desert island?
A football, a crate of craft beer and some kind of recipe book that would enable me to make edible food out of lizards and coconuts.

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