Joel is a physiotherapy and biomechanics lecturer in the Department of Physiotherapy.  Joel is only in his third year of teaching but already appears to be on a promising career trajectory. In a March 2019 HDR Support and Development Newsletter, Joel announced his top teaching goal as,” … develop a strong application for an MQ learning and teaching award application.” I interviewed Joel to unpack what articulating such a bold, clear career goal has meant.

What was the motivation for your teaching goal? 

Joel describes his intrinsic motivation first – to be proud of his teaching and to be the best teacher he can be.  Student satisfaction, engagement and positive feedback are highly important and motivating for him.  Joel describes how he seeks out mentors and advice and is constantly evaluating and reflecting on his teaching practice.  Joel then points out how being surrounded by quality teachers with a string of teaching awards, extrinsically motivate him to improve his own teaching practice.  There is a culture of teaching excellence and quality student experience in the Department of Physiotherapy – a culture of always striving to do things better and it’s a culture that Joel has bought into. 

A teaching award is a marker of excellence – and that’s what I’m striving for. It’s a measuring stick that you can challenge yourself with.

Dr Joel Fuller, Lecturer, Department of Physiotherapy, Macquarie University.

What does the literature tell us about teacher self-efficacy? 

Joel has all the hallmarks of a highly efficacious teacher. Teacher self-efficacy or self-confidence is closely associated with quality teaching practice and better student achievement and motivation. Moreover, the literature tells us that highly efficacious teachers have higher job satisfaction, are resilient in the face of challenges, work harder, and possess higher levels of confidence to try new teaching strategies (Goddard et. al, 2000).  In speaking with Joel about his teaching goal, I see evidence of a collective teacher efficacy at work – it is the departments’ shared belief in its capability to deliver an excellent educational experience that makes the sum of the whole greater than the individual parts. 

What professional development has helped support your award goal? 

In the past 12 months Joel has applied himself conscientiously to professional development in two main spaces: 

  1. HDR Supervision Associate Fellow Program: this program explores best practice in learning, teaching, supervising and researching to help develop HDR supervision skills. “My teaching involves supervised student research projects and many of the skills I learnt through the HDR supervisor program could be directly applied to that context.
  2. HEA Fellowship program – this program requires reflection on educational practice and engagement with pedagogy and philosophy of teaching.  “Hearing from other academics across the University is great for stimulating teaching strategy ideas.” 

Have you changed any teaching practice as a result of this PD? 

Understanding the “scaffolding of learning” concept has been enlightening, helping Joel to be more explicit and deliberate in his teaching approach. Joel appreciates how helpful it is to students to link concepts, theory to practice and explain the application of content in professional life.  

The more professional development I undertake, the more I have a greater awareness of the system I’m working within – both at a Unit and Course level.  When you understand the bigger picture of how your Unit fits within the course, graduate capabilities and professional requirements, it helps give you direction in your teaching. I’ve moved from simply delivering content in my first year to actively enriching the student experience through drawing on clinical experience and bringing in examples and anecdotes to improve the delivery.

Dr Joel Fuller, Lecturer, Department of Physiotherapy, Macquarie University.

What other strategies have supported your career goal? 

  1. Peer Review of Teaching – Actively seeking out mentors, coaching and professional advice – “it’s so important to surround yourself with the right people”.  
  2. Applying for promotion:  Applying for promotion helps the reflective process and articulation of the way you do things.
  3. Articulating goals to colleagues helps to cement them – “speaking goals aloud to others does help”. 
  4. Self-evaluation: Joel is constantly reflecting and evaluating his teaching and looking for areas that he can add greater levels of engagement. 

What process do you use to collate, and store evidence? 

As Joel engages with some of the programs and processes available at the University, he has started to collate evidence.  Joel admits that his filtering and storing of strong evidence could be better.  Currently, he uses an email folder structure to capture evidence and word documents to record his narrative-based story. “The process of collating evidence and building a narrative around it is very affirming and rewarding in and of itself.  Formal recognition is just icing on the cake.” 

What are you most proud of? 

Joel is very proud of receiving several student nominations for the student-lead teaching award in 2019.  He is also proud of his willingness to try to improve his teaching, by value-adding to face-to-face sessions with every offering, and the impact that is clearly having on student satisfaction. 

I’m fortunate that the environment in which I teach fosters continual self-improvement, and interestingly it also mirrors an optimal clinical environment.

Dr Joel Fuller, Department of Physiotherapy, Macquarie University

Goddard, R.D., Hoy, W.K. and Woolfolk-Hoy, A. (2000). Collective Teacher Efficacy: Its Meaning, Measure, and Impact on Student Achievement. American Educational Research Journal, Summer 2000, Vol. 37(2), pp. 479-507. 

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Posted by Lyn Collins

Senior Instructional Designer in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

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