The TESCEA approach to multipliers
Updated: Oct 20, 2021
Effective scale-up and lasting impact of higher education transformation requires ongoing training and facilitation within institutions. Multipliers are members of university teaching staff who are trained in transformative learning, gender-responsive pedagogy, and can deliver course redesign workshops. They help to ensure as many people as possible adopt the model’s principles for teaching and learning, through workshops, mentoring and a range of other activities.
Any transformation of teaching and learning needs to be both sustainable and scalable. In the Transforming Higher Education for Social Change model, multipliers are critical to this process. Multipliers are members of university teaching staff who are trained in transformative learning, gender-responsive pedagogy, and can deliver course redesign workshops.
The role goes beyond simply training others, and it is for that reason we did not use the term “training of trainers”. Multipliers are champions for higher education transformation and help to ensure as many people as possible adopt the model’s principles for teaching and learning. They do this not only by delivering workshops, but also through mentoring and a range of other activities. Collectively, these activities support universities, industries, communities, and governments to work together to create an improved learning experience for both male and female students.
During the TESCEA project, we adopted an incremental approach to training individuals as multipliers, ensuring that they were equipped with the knowledge, resources and confidence needed to fulfil the role. This process included the following, cascading steps:
Identify potential multipliers Potential multipliers were identified following their participation in the project’s first course redesign workshop at each university. This was during the first year of the project when the workshops were being developed and run by facilitators from AFELT and INASP. While some people volunteered for the role, others were invited to become multipliers. The next section (Identifying Multipliers) describes the approach of each university in selecting their multipliers and assessing suitability.
Train multipliers The nominated multipliers (three to four from each university) were then invited to attend a five-day intensive training in how to facilitate course redesign workshops. Later, an additional round of training was also provided, which focused on learning design and using the learning designer tool. This training formed the basis of the ‘Learning Design – Planning Effective Learning Experiences’ online course.
Multipliers shadow and support Next, multipliers were invited to play an active role in the facilitation of the second course redesign workshop at their respective universities. This included shadowing the facilitators from AFELT and INASP, leading sessions where they felt confident, and supporting their university colleagues during group work.
Multipliers take lead on facilitation Finally, the third round of course redesign workshops saw the roles of multipliers and facilitators from INASP and AFELT switch; the multipliers led the sessions, and the external facilitators were present to provide feedback and support, as necessary.
This was a gradual approach that ensured the consistency and quality of workshop facilitation. However, it also necessitated the long-term commitment of multipliers. The four universities used a variety of methods to incentivise individuals to become and remain multipliers.
Each university approached the selection of multipliers slightly differently, but some common themes emerged. At all four universities, multipliers are members of academic staff who demonstrate an interest in transforming pedagogical practice (as described above, this often became evident during their participation in course redesign workshops). Beyond this intrinsic motivation, it is also important to select multipliers who have adequate time to devote to the role and, most importantly, a willingness to support others through this transformational journey.
“There have been several key participants in the course redesign programs who have taken up an enthusiastic role in their respective departments, championing a transformative approach to teaching and learning. These multipliers have been important over the course of the TESCEA project in shifting teaching and learning practice and in demonstrating the practical and realizable impact of transformative learning.”
Dr David Monk, Gulu University
The team of multipliers at each university has evolved over time; with new multipliers being trained and others having to leave the role due to a change in circumstances. As the team at Uganda Martyrs University (UMU) reflects, a natural momentum can build over time, where established multipliers help to identify and support new members:
“The pool of multipliers has evolved and grown throughout TESCEA because the multipliers that were trained first continued to give support... This helped the multipliers to evolve and grow faster and with confidence.”
The University of Dodoma team stresses the importance of maintaining the multiplier team at a size that can be supported fully to facilitate quality workshops:
“With TESCEA, we had a limited number of multipliers in order to maintain the quality; having large numbers, although it could have made scale up easy, it may however, affect quality.”
The contribution of multipliers
Lecturers are often exceptionally busy, and becoming a multiplier means additional work. All universities stress the importance of recognising multipliers for their commitment and contributions. As Gloria Lamaro at Gulu University observes, multipliers not only facilitate workshops but are also committed to leading by example:
“[Multipliers] offer themselves, sacrificing their time, working on their own and developing their own learning designs, redesigning their own course and using it as models.”
Thanks to the multipliers, all four universities within the TESCEA project have been able to facilitate additional course redesign workshops for other faculty members without the support of external facilitators. Looking forward, these multipliers will continue to play an important role in their institutions by planning and affecting future activities for the professional development of faculty, as well as participating in TESCEA’s community of practice.
Beyond TESCEA, multipliers at the four universities have used their skills to support their institutions in other ways, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the implementation of the multiplier approach within the TESCEA project, we encountered a number of challenges. These included:
Incentives Some multipliers felt that there were not enough financial or other incentives to be a multiplier. Read this mini case to find out more about approaches used to incentivise participation as multipliers.
Willingness to volunteer Being a multiplier is a voluntary activity and some universities encountered challenges in attracting volunteers.
Balancing time with other roles Being a multiplier requires a time commitment, which needs to be balanced and accommodated within busy faculty schedules.
Personalities and differing priorities University leadership, managers, lecturers, students all have their own interests, which can impact how effectively the multiplier approach works in practice.
Infrastructure and structural limitations Effective use of multipliers requires access to relevant tools, including internet connections and appropriate stationery for group work. It also requires appropriate class sizes that enable meaningful discussions.
Conceptual limitations Faculty development is a field that most faculty are not familiar with. In some cases, concepts were used or referred to which multipliers were not familiar with.
Resistance from colleagues The multiplier approach is new to many of the faculty, and some are resistant to it. Some question the expertise of their multiplier colleagues, instead expecting external facilitators.
Recognising these challenges, the universities have developed some adaptations to how they nurture and use multipliers. These include:
Identifying the level of awareness and interest at the start “After selecting the courses to be redesigned, I will use a short survey to know the level of awareness and how interested faculty members are in a new approach (transformative learning) to teaching - learning. I will take those most interested to be multipliers.” Professor Flora Fabian, University of Dodoma
Understanding motivations better “Conduct prior survey to interpret individual interest, aspirations and commitment; conduct pre-selection meetings to provide clear information on what is required and expectations and select those whom money is not their only motivator to participate.” Gloria Lamaro, Gulu University
Select people with time to commit “I would go for those with less responsibility elsewhere and outside [of a] leadership role.” Gloria Lamaro, Gulu University
Overcoming resistance Ensure multipliers are well prepared and feel confident to facilitate the sessions. This requires adequate prior planning (see planning sessions in the facilitation notes in the toolkits, for example).
Conceptual limitations As a team, during the planning sessions, discuss some of the terms that the multipliers are not so familiar with. Over time, as a team, engage in some lunchtime book discussions on teaching and learning.
All four universities intend to maintain the multiplier approach as part of the continued application of TESCEA approaches to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
“I will continue the multiplier approach, because the University of Dodoma is a huge institution and not easy to reach everyone at the same time. The multiplier approach is good for scale up and sustainability. We shall approach instructors for new courses that we plan to introduce curriculum redesign who will be interested to become [a] multiplier through the Principals/Director/Deans.”
Professor Flora Fabian, University of Dodoma
Advocacy to new university staff and senior university management are important parts of ensuring the sustainability and scale-up of TESCEA, in which multipliers play a key role. At Gulu University, for example, multipliers will be provided with an institutional budget to continue scale-up and will be connected with the university’s Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, which was designed to expedite the planning of activities across faculties and make it easier to lobby for management’s support. You can read more about this engagement with senior management in the dedicated case study.
Written by Harriet Mutonyi and Josephine Dryden
With expert contributions from: Dr Gloria Lamaro (Lecturer at Gulu University), Dr Felichesmi Lyakurwa (Senior Lecturer at Mzumbe University), Charles Mushabe (lecturer from Uganda Martyrs University) and Dr Flora Fabian (Professor at the University of Dodoma).
Main image: A face-to-face workshop at Mzumbe University in 2019