Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Ruth Whittaker

Ruth Whittaker

Professor Ruth Whittaker is Head of the Centre of Learning Enhancement and Academic Development (GCU LEAD). Her role includes: leading and supporting academic and professional development and enhanced approaches to learning, teaching, assessment underpinned by scholarship and research; providing strategic and academic leadership for implementation of the University’s Widening Participation Strategy, including Articulation, in collaboration with the GCU community and external partners; engaging in policy and strategy development and leading University initiatives in Learning and Teaching as well as external research and development, nationally and internationally, in relation to learning and teaching policy and practice.

Ruth has particular responsibility for research and development in the areas of Recognizing Prior Informal Learning (RPL); articulation; transition and progression. She has led University-wide strategic developments in these fields, such as: GCU’s Widening Participation Strategy; RPL Policy and Guidelines; the University-wide Moving Forward initiative (Transition and Progression) and the SFC-funded Greater Glasgow Articulation Partnership (articulation from college to university) as well as directed research and development projects at a national and European level at the policy/practice interface. This included the development of the national SCQF RPL Guidelines (2003-05); models and resources to support RPL in the Community Learning and Development (2005-06) and Social Services sectors (2006-08) and SCQF Partnership and Skills Development Scotland within the context of: Careers Guidance (2009-12); the Flexible Delivery Quality Enhancement Theme project on Supporting Flexible Entry to University (2006); the First Year Experience Quality Enhancement Theme project on Transition into and through Higher Education (2007); and was a member of the Project Management Group for the Scottish Government funded scoping study on support and recognition mechanisms for refugees and migrant workers (2009-10). The most recent research and development projects on RPL is the QAA-funded project Streamlining RPL Processes: facilitating the award of credit for prior informal learning (2011-12) which has resulted in sector guidelines to enhance practice, and the SCQF Partnership/SDS –funded My Skills, My Future RPL profiling toolkit for use by young people in schools and people facing redundancy. Her future work includes the development of a national higher education Framework for RPL, which will be linked to the new Quality Enhancement Theme, Developing and Supporting the Curriculum as well as post-16 reform, Putting Learners at the Centre. Ruth has also led a number of EU funded projects including the Socrates Grundtvig project Valuing Learning from Experience (VaLEx) (2003-05). Ruth is Chair of the QAA Scotland/Universities Scotland RPL HEI Network, which supports research and development across the sector, and is a member of the Steering Group of the European RPL Network. She also represents Universities Scotland on the cross-sectoral SCQF RPL Network. She is working with other international RPL scholars to develop an international RPL research agenda and lead collaborative research activities in this field.

As well as her institutional role as Head of GCU LEAD, Ruth is continuing her work on the recognition of prior learning through new research and development activities at sectoral, national and international levels. These activities are located within the context of widening participation, workforce development and national qualifications frameworks