Talking Teaching: Why I became a HEA Fellow, by Dr Shelly Kemp

“The HEA is useful because it provides a framework for career development tied to enhancing education quality. Even those who do have strong natural teaching abilities can benefit from guidance to calibrate their teaching methods with current research on the quality-enhanced approaches.”
– Dr Shelly Kemp, Lecturer and Programme Director, Psychology Department, the University of Buckingham

Dr Shelly Kemp is the Programme Director for the Psychology Department at the University of Buckingham where she has lectured for four years. A HEA Fellow since 2014, her principal area of research has been investigating the formation and breakdown of human relationships particularly the social, psychological and biological effects of social pain and rejection.

I am a lecturer and module lead in Multivariate Statistics, Biological Psychology and Sports and Exercise Psychology. In our Psychology department, nearly all of our academic staff are accredited by the HEA via completing a PCTHE which is the route I took, but there are currently some newer members of the department who are submitting an Account of Professional Practice to gain accreditation.

I work at a small teaching-focused university but we also do research and this informs our teaching. Being a lecturer does mean that we need to balance teaching with research amongst other administrative responsibilities. I think historically within the higher education sector, research has been ranked as more important than teaching by institutions and it was assumed that people who are good academics would naturally be able to teach. Fortunately times have changed and UK universities have become more student-focused. It has been recognised that it is not necessarily the case that being a good researcher makes you a good teacher.

The HEA is useful because it provides a framework for career development tied to enhancing education quality. Even those who do have strong natural teaching abilities can benefit from guidance to calibrate their teaching methods with current research on the quality-enhanced approaches.

We have a really close relationship with our students at the University of Buckingham, and have high student contact time. This means we really get to know our students, knowing them by name, how they best learn and what their career aspirations are. I am not sure if it is because of the contact time, or because of the staff personalities, or because of training aligned with HEA accreditation (I believe it is a combination of the three) but we all really care about the quality of the education our students receive.

The HEA Framework recognises that what we do is a professional practice, and so this recognition not only enables us to develop ourselves in our careers and take pride in teaching at university but also helps guide us to attain high standards in our teaching for the benefit of our students. In this respect, it is great for academic staff and students alike. Soon I will be thinking about going for Senior Fellow of the HEA. I know my students will benefit from me digging deeper in to pedagogical theory and reflecting on my methods, and I will benefit from the knowledge and confidence the experience will give me.

 

If you're preparing an application for HEA Senior or Principal Fellowship, attending one of our professional recognition writing days will provide you with time and space to think, discuss and reflect on professional practice and draft a narrative for your Fellowship submission. Find out more about HEA writing retreats for Senior and Principal Fellowship on the HEA website here.