A warm congratulations to Maria Herke and Susan Hoadley from the Department of Linguistics on recently achieving Senior Fellowship with Advance HE! We asked them to tell us about their experience.

Could you tell us a bit about your teaching and perhaps share an example from your case study for your fellowship application?

Maria: My teaching is underpinned by my teaching philosophy that education should be widely available and accessible, and that teaching should encourage students to love their learning enough that the experience transforms how they see the world. I think it’s important that students see their learning as relevant beyond the university and that their individual experiences are valued in the university. To these ends, my unit design and delivery is based on scholarly research but guided, as much as possible by my students.

An example of this philosophy in action  is my recent redesign of ACSH100 (soon to be ACOM1001 – Academic Communication in the Social Sciences and Humanities) that specifically sought to improve access to working, distant and disadvantaged students through the preparation of engaged and connected learning activities, resources and spaces.

The replacement of traditional face to face weekly lectures and tutorials with blended delivery video lectures, online activities, e-portfolio and active learning workshops has enabled greater engagement and participation potential for students who would not typically be able to do so. Students are now able to access their learning resources and activities through an integrated digital and physical space that allows each student, whether on or off campus, to engage and participate in the units according to their own timetable and connecting to their own learning contexts, both in and outside of Macquarie.

Susan: My “ah hah” moment in teaching came early in my teaching experience, when a student in the unit I was teaching said (in a LEU) that what they had learnt had changed the way they think and look at life. Well I thought “you can’t ask for more than that, but at the same time you shouldn’t expect anything less!” This early realisation underpins my teaching philosophy that higher education should be transformative and I strive in my teaching to create supportive and empowering learning environments, where students can confidently engage and participate in their learning independently to achieve their educational goals and have a transformative experience.

A good example of this is when I re-designed an internship unit to maximise the outcomes for students by focussing on developing their capacity for ongoing professional skills development and critical reflective practice. In the final debrief, the students consistently reported that the unit had changed their lives by empowering them to manage their own career and professional development.  

Would you recommend others do this – why? 

Maria: I enthusiastically recommend that other academics apply for  Advance HE Fellowship. Though it may seem quite daunting at the outset, the process of thinking carefully about my teaching, systematising what I’ve achieved, clarifying my philosophy – this was all so valuable. The support I recieved  from Macquarie colleagues was also pretty inspiring – from guidance and check-ins from Karina to proof reading of drafts and interesting discussions around learning and teaching with others. If you are considering applying – Just Do It!! 

Susan: Yes, I do recommend that others apply for Advance HE fellowship, in fact there are a few people I have been nagging for a while now – you know who you are!

Writing your application makes you reflect on and define what you have done in your teaching career; conceptualise and theorise your teaching philosophy, approaches and practices; celebrate your achievements and successes; and, perhaps most importantly, gives you a narrative and the language to talk about your teaching. Yes, especially for those of us that don’t love writing, writing the application is hideous, but it’s not so bad once you start.  

Why is it important to recognise teaching in this way?

Maria: University teaching has taken second place to university research in recent years. But the reality is what would our university be without students and learning and teaching? Both are important and the recognition afforded by the Advance HE qualification goes some way to levelling the playing field.

Susan: I feel that, as educators in universities, we put considerable time and effort into continuously improving our teaching knowledge and skills to develop ourselves as teaching professionals. The Advance HE Fellowship recognises us as teaching professionals and certifies the teaching expertise we have worked hard to developed. 

Posted by Alex Thackray

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