Congratulations to Rod Lane and Michael Cavanagh (both from the Department of Educational Studies) who have recently been awarded HEA Fellowships.
The HEA Fellowship program is a formal recognition scheme for professional practice in higher education teaching and learning support. Fellowships are awarded to individuals who successfully apply to the Advance HE Academy, for their teaching and learning support experience, accomplishments and practice.
And Gladly caught up with Michael and Rod and asked them about their HEA Fellowship applications and, most importantly, whether they would recommend it to others.
Could you tell us a bit about your teaching and perhaps share an example from your case study for your fellowship application?
When I came to Macquarie after many years as a high school teacher I observed that discussions about practice which used to occur regularly at school were less frequent in the university.
So, in 2012 I formed the Secondary Teacher Education Program (STEP) group as a community of practice where we could learn with and from each other. I envisioned a more collegial approach to further enhance the program as a whole and our individual units of study as well.
The STEP group has promoted a greater sense of our common experiences and the development of our reflective practice. We’ve undertaken peer reviews of teaching, completed a Faculty Partnership Project and presented this work at an international conference. We’ve also collaborated on joint research projects and are currently working to develop our units for online offering.
The STEP group has enabled a shared understanding of teaching and has allowed us to support each other in improving our classroom practice to the benefit of our students.
My first case study for the HEA Fellowship application focused on initiatives I had put in place to build a culture of evidence-based assessment in the Department and Faculty of Human Sciences. I am passionate about best-practice assessment in schools and in higher education. Over the past 10 years I have advocated for assessment that is fit for purpose, constructively aligned, valid and reliable and have sought to support my colleagues to achieve these goals. The case study tells the story of my involvement in the development of the university Assessment policy in 2015 and more recent initiatives to support staff with their assessment design including developing workshops and resources on the principles of effective assessment, backwards mapping approaches building rubrics and marking scales, effective moderation, and constructive alignment.
Would you recommend others do this – why?
I strongly recommend that colleagues consider applying for one of the HEA Fellowships. Preparing the application gave me a focus for reflecting on my teaching and helped me to identify the impact of my work on my students and my colleagues. It was a very satisfying experience to document my achievements and read the reports from my referees.
I highly recommend the HEA Fellowship program. The application process helped me to clarify my teaching and leadership goals. The writing process guides you to think carefully about your teaching philosophy and how it aligns with your practice. The writing process encourages research, reflection and professional development. It focuses your attention on the initiatives you have put in place to support colleagues, the research evidence for these approaches and the impact of these initiatives on student learning and the skills of colleagues.
Why is it important to recognise teaching in this way?
Teaching is a core business of the university. Previous research has consistently demonstrated that the biggest influence on student learning outcomes is the quality of the teaching they experience. Good teachers can also have a profound impact on their colleagues by promoting excellence in teaching and sharing best practice. So, recognising good teaching through programs like the HEA Fellowships raises the profile of teaching within the university and demonstrates Macquaries’ commitment to providing the best experience for our students.
Quality teaching in higher education is important and the Professional Standards Framework provides a set of criteria and benchmark standards for measuring quality. Academics with HEA Fellowship play an important role in modelling best-practice and to promoting conversations about quality learning and teaching in their institutions. The award of an HEA Fellowship is one of the few opportunities for recognising effective teaching and leadership at an international level.