Embarking on a PGCHEP after taking a two-year career break to look after my now three-year old twins, was met with mixed feelings. I did have to ask myself the question? What would the Postgraduate Certificate for Higher Education Practice (PGCHEP) teach me about lecturing in Higher Education that I did not already know? After all, I was hardly a novice to the field as I had held positions at the University of Westminster, Middlesex University, Goldsmiths College, the University of Sussex, Kings’ College, INTO City University/UEA and UEL.
My career as an academic has spanned over 16 years and initially I felt curious and sceptical about the PGCHEP. Like many opportunities I have been given, I approached it with an open mind: what insights could I gain during the course? What could I bring to this journey? How would this pedagogical and reflective process impact upon my professional practice?
From the outset, I found it strangely comforting to be on the other side of the lecturer/student dichotomy. Working for GSM London, who are one of the leading Widening Participation Private Higher Education providers in the UK, it became evident that the teaching and learning strategies that were useful in institutions, such as Goldsmiths or Sussex might not be solely transferable to GSM London’s largely mature learners.
Having taught mature learners very early on in my career at UEL, I was aware of the importance in fostering students’ sense of belonging and academic ownership to encourage learning, retention and ultimate progression. As part of the PGCHEP, I have learnt some wonderful student-centred learning and teaching techniques and personally reflected upon my own teaching methods in the context of diverse learners.
Undertaking this HEA accredited PGCHEP has also motivated me to apply for the Senior HEA Fellowship, get involved in the HEA’s community of practice: Access, Retention, Attainment and Progression and to join the retention and attainment Committee at GSM London.
Completing the PGCHEP enables me not only to become a Fellow of the HEA (FHEA), but also enables me to demonstrate my commitment to teaching, learning and the student experience. In addition to this, it gives me the space to reflect upon my professional development and to evolve curriculum design materials, assessments and feedback practices through the HEA’s community of practice.
At present, I have one module outstanding before I complete the PGCHEP and will be applying for the SFHEA as a direct applicant at the same time. My motivations for applying for the SFHEA are two-fold: firstly, to recognise the many years of practice I have gained in Higher Education in roles of module leadership and as a subject mentor. Secondly, to acknowledge my current role as Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader at GSM London, where I have the responsibility for leading, managing and organising the BSc. (Hons.) Enterprise and Small Business Development programme.
Overall, both the FHEA (through undertaking the PGCHEP), and my application for the SFHEA (through the submission of an evidence based account of practice), have had a massive impact upon my academic professional development and has enabled me to reflect squarely on the processes and practices involved in learning and teaching in Higher Education. I would therefore recommend undertaking a PGCHEP and becoming a AFHEA/FHEA/SFHEA/PFHEA to all Higher Education professionals, even those who have substantial experience within their field, as there is definitely valuable insights and knowledge to be gained by all.
You can read Yaz's previous blog post, More than just widening participation here.