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Talking Teaching: Why I became a HEA Fellow, by Dr Sarah Drummond

“Becoming a Senior Fellow has really had an impact on what I do.
– Dr Sarah Drummond, Teaching Fellow and Director of Undergraduate Studies, School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, Durham University


Dr Sarah Drummond is Teaching Fellow and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences at Durham University. In December 2015 she became the Higher Education Academy’s 70,000th Fellow.

I became a Fellow of the HEA soon after it formed in 2004 but it’s only recently that I decided to apply for Senior Fellowship (by achieving Senior Fellowship status, Dr Drummond became the HEA’s 70,000th Fellow). I really must say that I should have done it years ago! The catalyst for my application was that I was hoping to become a Senior Teaching Fellow within my School and I believe that the status that goes with becoming a Senior Fellow of the HEA could only strengthen my opportunity for promotion.

Around the same time a senior colleague who had just received his HEA Senior Fellowship encouraged me to apply. We’re a research-led institution and I think it’s very important that staff can see higher education teachers, including senior colleagues, being recognised in this way. And of course with the Teaching Excellence Framework on the way, Fellowship of the HEA is going to be even more critical.

As someone who has been teaching for many years, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of teaching. What I found hugely valuable about writing my application was that it forced me to reflect on my teaching and really understand the impact it has made to my students. When you realise that you’ve made quite a contribution it’s a great feeling.

Becoming a Senior Fellow has really had an impact on what I do. It’s given me the space to really focus on my teaching. As Director of Undergraduate Studies for my School, it means that I can work with my colleagues, especially those newer to teaching, to give them the support and encouragement they need to run with new ideas outside of normal practice. I, and other HEA Fellows, can also guide them to the literature and resources on the HEA website that can help us all to make a better impact on our students through our teaching.

The recognition in my teaching that the HEA Senior Fellowship brings helps me to encourage my colleagues not to be frightened to try new things, so in that way I’m sure our students benefit from my HEA Fellowship.