Preparing for Learning and Teaching at Oxford (PLTO)
Details of how PLTO training works together with useful resources
In this section:
In the MPLS Division PLTO training is provided by departments; coordinating this training is part of your role as Head of Teaching. Your department will provide you with information about how PLTO has previously been developed and delivered in your context, together with existing materials and resources. If you are not sure who to speak to in your department about this, please contact email@example.com.
Please explore the information on this page to see the range of information and resources available to support PLTO training.
MPLS departments have agreed the following set of aims for PLTO training, which are based on good practice identified in departments. It is important that your PLTO provision meets these. PLTO participants will:
- Understand Oxford teaching structures, how undergraduate teaching is organised in the department, and where their particular teaching will fit
- Be aware of local teaching practices and be equipped to start teaching
- Understand the necessity of thorough preparation, and the necessity of developing a full understanding of what they are going to teach
- Be aware of the university and local administrative processes and be able to use them to (where appropriate) organise teaching, report on students’ progress, and get paid
- Have an understanding of the responsibilities and expectations of the role, and their limits
- Have opportunities to discuss teaching challenges and ask questions with peers and more experienced colleagues
- Know where and how to access departmental resources to support post-teaching reflection and ongoing development of teaching skills
It is particularly important that those who are new to teaching have access to support that will follow on from the initial PLTO session once they have had some teaching experience.
A PLTO session should include:
- How the Oxford teaching structure works
- The structure of undergraduate teaching in the department and where teaching by researchers fits
- How tutorials / labs / classes / other teaching contexts work in the department
- Departmental processes for recruiting, getting paid, reporting on undergraduate progress, and other administrative aspects that participants will need to know about
- How people learn / hints and tips on how to teach / how to mark
- Inclusive teaching practices
- What the teacher is / is not responsible for
- Potential pitfalls and challenges
- Opportunities for participative work, discussion and questions
- How and where follow-on support is available
The PLTO session should be evaluated to make sure that the training is achieving what it should – that is, equipping people to carry out their first teaching duties – and to inform the ongoing development of the training. The evaluation data will be a useful resource to feed into departmental review processes.
The department and Head of Teaching should work with the person / people delivering the PLTO training to decide on an evaluation mechanism that is right for the department and that will provide information about how effective the training is. See some ideas and suggestions for evaluation mechanisms (PDF).
If you would like to discuss evaluation further, more information is available from the division and from the Centre for Teaching and Learning. Please contact Justin Hutchence in the first instance.
The most effective way to learn to teach is to do it, and then reflect on and perhaps discuss with others what happened, what worked and what you might change. For this reason departments are expected, as part of their PLTO provision, to ensure that there are appropriate activities available in the department for reviewing and discussing first teaching experiences.
These activities should be available to those new to teaching after they have had some teaching experience. They will be designed to support and encourage reflective practice, discussion with peers and more experienced colleagues, and so further enhance the development of teaching skills and confidence.
Many departments already have such mechanisms in place and there are examples in the document 'Follow-on mechanisms for reflective practice' (PDF). If they are not already doing this, departments should establish such mechanisms as appropriate to their context. If you would like further details or to be put in touch with the relevant departments, please contact Justin Hutchence.
The MPLS Division provides a session 'Teaching: Reviewing First Steps and Developing the Next' which also provides the opportunity for reflection and discussion on first teaching experiences.
All departments are encouraged to make sure there are resources and information available for PLTO participants to access after the session, to support them in their teaching. Many departments already have these in place, and 'Supporting documents and information' (PDF) outlines examples.
The resources can be available in a variety of media, such as written guides, webpages and videos.
The Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) support students and staff who teach. There is a wide range of information, resources and online courses available on their website.