Dr Jen Rowland is a lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and MRes Director. In 2019 Jen was awarded a Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy; adding to her string of teaching and academic qualifications
Why did you decide to pursue a HEA Senior Fellowship?
Jen explains that she developed a continuing professional development, or “CPD mindset” when working at Helsinki University from 2010–2015, and later during the completion of a Science teaching degree in 2015. She targeted the HEA program for CPD this year after looking at the program outline and requirements. Jen has explored the theory behind teaching approaches that she hadn’t realized in her early years as a research scientist. She is already looking around for what education-related CPD she can do next year. Jen is a big advocate of online learning, having gained two different degrees that way.
What are the professional benefits of obtaining a HEA Fellowship?
We know from research that ongoing professional development keeps teachers up-to-date on new research on how people learn, emerging technology, effective teaching approaches, and more. The best professional development is ongoing, experiential, collaborative, and situated. The HEA program ticks all of those boxes. Jen explains that if you want to move into any role or promoted position in Higher Education, a HEA Fellowship demonstrates a commitment to teaching and leadership. The program encourages reflection on your educational practice and that generally leads to iterative enhancement of your work in higher education.
How has the program impacted on your teaching?
The HEA program has reinforced the importance of reflective practice for Jen, but more significantly, she is now surrounded by colleagues that have gone or are currently going through the HEA program. Jen explains that the HEA program has made more people around her reflective practitioners.
More people at MQU are becoming proactive, getting engaged with learning and teaching and that has produced a wider learning community and environment to work in.Dr Jen Rowland, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Macquarie University
Jen thinks that the HEA program is helping to change the teaching landscape at Macquarie, for the better. She is grateful that as more educators at Macquarie become HEA accredited, there are increasingly more conversations being had to discuss things such as teaching and learning strategies, taxonomies, and learning outcomes. The fact that more people are thinking about the best approaches they can take to enhance their teaching, can only enrich our teaching community!
What do you find rewarding about teaching?
Since undertaking educational CPD Jen now has a much more open and collaborative approach to curriculum design (within the confines of the course constructs). Jen describes her agile, student-centred approach to teaching: In the first week, she surveys students about where they’ve come from, what they’ve already done, what they understand and what they want to learn. Jen considers the diverse backgrounds of her students in Unit delivery and to scaffold their learning. What Jen finds, is that a personalized approach quickly builds student engagement. Jen acknowledges that it’s not only easier with PG students but necessary as they come from diverse backgrounds and with differing levels of knowledge. Through taking this agile, student-centred approach Jen argues that it is easier to identify and fill knowledge gaps.
What I enjoy, is that we can craft a Unit together, within some constraints, that is engaging for everyone.Dr Jen Rowland, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Macquarie University
What do you find most challenging about teaching?
“When you have a group of students unwilling to participate and actively engage, who are more interested in marks than learning – it certainly makes you rethink your motivation for teaching”, Jen announces with a laugh. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen often!