Mentoring Lecturers in Higher Education

Posted by Natasa Brouwer, Jocelyne Vreede, Lotte Schreuders, Bob Pirok, Stefania Grecea, on Oct. 28, 2021, 10:18 a.m.

Lotte Schreuders, Bob Pirok, Stefania Grecea, Jocelyne Vreede, Natasa Brouwer
University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Challenge and goal

In today’s dynamic society, teaching in higher education university is demanding and stressful task among new faculty members as they shift their role from learners to teachers. With the previous education often being aimed at research, new staff generally lacks relevant teaching-related skills. This transition is even more demanding as new faculty members are often appointed on tenure-track positions. Without appropriate support, it is challenging for new lecturers to properly develop a course, which directly impacts the quality of the curriculum. While university teaching qualification (UTQ) programs may exist, these often start after the teacher has started educating.

Topic of the user case

The aim of this user case is to propose an easily implementable system for peer-to-peer mentoring. This mentoring should achieve to decrease workload of senior lecturers to facilitate transfer to junior lecturers and aid in assuring quality of the lectures and courses with respect to the rest of the curriculum.

We propose a mentoring program that embeds the new lecturer in the expertise of a more senior staff member. Through meetings, feedback sessions and general support, the junior lecturer can tailor the education with the rest of the program. This mentoring peer-review process facilitates both alignment of courses within the curriculum and knowledge transfer between lecturers at various stages of their career. Moreover, it can function as means of quality assurance of courses in the curriculum. As an additional advantage, the senior lecturer may gain feedback from the open mind of the junior lecturer. These new insights can function as a component of CPD and thus also offer great benefits to senior participants of the mentoring program.

Local context (specific)

Lecturers in the MSc Chemistry program at the University of Amsterdam have a high workload balancing research work and education. This is particularly true for the relatively large number of tenure-track staff that have begun teaching. These staff members often find themselves completely lost in the rules and regulations, but particularly in how to organize their teaching. This leads to large differences in quality of courses within the MSc Chemistry curriculum. It also generates dissatisfaction with the junior lecturers who feel that they lack the proper knowledge and tools to deliver good teaching to the students.

Local educational scope
MSc Chemistry with different tracks

Pre-knowledge / Background of the participating local teaching staff
Most of the lecturers in this user case have achieved the Netherlands nationally recognized University Teaching Qualification certificate after following the UTQ programme organized at the Faculty of Science. Several lecturers are following the UTQ programme during this user case.

Local CPD goals

  • Design a mentor-mentee workflow
  • Facilitate accessible and specific knowledge transfer for daily teaching practice
  • Organize a community of mentor-mentee and reduce the power dynamics often present within the junior-senior pairing


Needs defined in STEM-CPD Roadmap

1 be reflective teachers and reflect about their courses / lectures.
11 organize / attend meetings of their own teaching team to discuss / reflect on the teaching methods and on the effect of those on students' learning.
8 discuss teaching with their colleagues.
12 share experience and knowledge gained through continuous professional development (CPD) with lecturers from other institutions.
12 getting peer-feedback on own teaching practice from a colleague.
15 getting mentoring from an experienced colleague.
17 giving mentoring to a junior lecturer.
16 getting just-in-time support on a specific teaching and learning issue.

CPD activities at the local university


  1. Create inventory of interested staff from local CPD and MSc. Chemistry program.
    The first part of this stage comprises a series of meetings and interview with local staff members. Based on this information an inventory will be created of young and senior staff members who are interested in participating in a pilot.
  2. Definition of test cases

Test cases will be defined through selection of a limited number (n≤3) of suitable pairs of senior and young staff.

  1. Definition of mentoring structure

Using the selected mentor-mentee pairs a first draft of a mentoring structure will be designed. By incorporating input from these staff members the mentoring program a be ensured to deliver the requested knowledge and is likely to promote a CPD mindset.


The proposed mentoring structure will be presented for review by other STEM-CPD@EUni members. The gained feedback will be incorporated into the mentoring structure before the first pilots start.

Stage 3: PILOT

The University of Amsterdam STEM-CPD@EUni team will track the progress of the mentor-mentee pairs for a set time domain and propose recommendations for an improved system. The pairs will be interviewed again and their suggestions will be used for further optimization of the structure.

Teaching and learning materials


Media platform (e.g. Zoom, Teams, microMOOC)

Sustainable implementation

Feedback from test cases will be internally presented to create more support (internal ambassadors). Development of microMOOC.


Expected impact of the CPD User Case

  • to offer guidance on developing contemporary academic careers
  • to increase the strength of the educational structure organisation and its productivity
  • to establish an inclusive and supportive community of lecturers

Plans for eventual continuation of the CPD within the same topic


Reflection, Knowledge sharing (type P2-3, P2-5)

This CPD scenario describes a User case in which lecturers develop attitudes in reflecting on own teaching practice and knowledge sharing.
The approximate duration of a User case that follows this scenario is several months.
In this CPD scenario the participants are using a very short open online course, a micro mooc (μmooc) and professionalize in a close connection to their own teaching practice (at their workplace) and meet in person on location with the training staff and with other participants.

Learning environment
Several months

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