Getting connected: establishing direct communication between learning developers and PhD Students with teaching responsibilities




Learning development, doctoral researcher, teaching, higher education, professional services


Many PhD researchers have the opportunity to take up teaching responsibilities during their doctoral studies to enhance their employability and interest in academia. Aside from their formal teaching training, little is known about the types of resources and support from professional services that PhD students (PhDs) use to fulfil their teaching responsibilities. On the other hand, learning development is a relatively new profession within higher education. As such, there are varied perceptions on the necessity for PhDs with teaching responsibilities to engage with learning development support. This opinion piece shares the experience of a STEM UK PhD student with teaching responsibilities and a learning development practitioner when establishing support for modules taught by PhDs. Through a dialogue, the authors explore the challenges faced in the interaction between learning developers (LDs) and PhDs, in two different UK universities, and recommend how to further develop the relationship. Through this dialogue possible solutions like increasing the visibility of available LD support for PhDs with teaching responsibilities within higher education institutions (HEIs) and including LD support in PhDs teaching training were identified.

Author Biographies

Ralitsa Kantcheva, Bangor University

Ralitsa Kantcheva has been a Study Skills Adviser at Bangor University (Wales) since 2016. She has experience supporting students both through subject specific and generic provision of academic literacy skills. Her primary research interest is students’ understanding of threshold concepts embedded in academic writing and in scientific research procedures.

Kiu Sum, Solent University

Kiu Sum is a Doctoral Researcher in Nutrition at the University of Westminster, London. Her research interest focuses on workplace nutrition, public health nutrition, and behavioural sciences. Kiu is also a Lecturer in Nutrition at Solent University, Southampton. She has a broad interest in pedagogy research and student engagement and is a Registered Nutritionist with the Association for Nutrition. Kiu also currently co-convenes the Engagement Assessment and the Early Career Researchers Special Interest Groups at the RAISE Network.


Ali S, M., Supriyatno, Asiah, M. D., Saputri, M., Mursawal, A. and Zulfikar (2018) ‘The development of learning resources through Benthic species study in mangrove ecosystem: Reuleung Leupung for invertebrate zoology learning’, Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 1088(1), p.12046.

Barr, M. and Wright, P. (2019) ‘Training graduate teaching assistants: what can the discipline offer?’, European Political Science, 18, pp.143-156.

Hadisaputra, S., Ihsan, M. S., Gunawan, and Ramdani, A. (2020) ‘The development of chemistry learning devices based blended learning model to promote students’ critical thinking skills’, Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 1521(4), p.42083.

Hill, P. and Tinker, A. (2018) ‘Making the second year count: embedding learning development in a progressive student journey’, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, Issue 14, October, pp.1-25.

Jackson, D. (2015) ‘Employability skill development in work-integrated learning: barriers and best practice’, Studies in Higher Education, 40(2), pp.350-367.

Johnson, I. P. (2018) ‘Driving learning development professionalism forward from within’, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, Special Edition, October, pp.1-29.

Minogue, L., Murphy, C. and Salmons, K. (2018) ‘Embedding learning development; a model for collaborative practice’, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, Issue 13, April, pp.1-11.

Rao, N., Hosein, A. and Raaper, R. (2021) ‘Doctoral students navigating the borderlands of academic teaching in an era of precarity’, Teaching in Higher Education, 26(3), pp.454-470.

Ruge, G. and McCormack, C. (2017) ‘Building and construction students’ skills development for employability: reframing assessment for learning in discipline-specific contexts’, Architectural Engineering and Design Management, 13(5), pp.365-383.

Shum, A., Lau, P. and Fryer, L. (2021) ‘From learner to teacher:(re) training graduate teaching assistants’ teaching approaches and developing self-efficacy for and interest in teaching’, Higher Education Research & Development, 40(7), pp.1546-1563. .

Smallwood, Z. M., Spencer-Briggs, J. L., Xia Sean, X., Ward, M. D. and Hyde, J. (2022) ‘Design and delivery of a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) program in a UK university: experiences and perspectives’, Journal of Chemical Education, 99(2), pp.592-602.

Stapleford, K. (2019) ‘The LDHEN hive mind: learning development in UK higher education as a professional culture’, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, Issue 16, December, pp.1-23.

von Hoene, L. and Mintz, J. (2002) ‘Research on faculty as teaching mentors: lessons learned from a study of participants in UC Berkeley’s seminar for faculty who teach with graduate students instructors’, To Improve the Academy, 20(1), pp.77-93.




How to Cite

Kantcheva, R. . and Sum, K. (2023) “Getting connected: establishing direct communication between learning developers and PhD Students with teaching responsibilities”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (27). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi27.1013.



Opinion Pieces

Most read articles by the same author(s)