As promised in Sally’s introduction to the blog earlier this year, we will ask each of our team members to write a short page about themselves and their roles. Here’s mine:
I hold the position of Academic Developer Officer at the Higher Education Academy (HEA), joining the HEA in August 2011. Prior to this I’ve held the roles of education researcher and lecturer in educational change, in a cross-institutional role predominately focusing on work in the areas of professional development, internationalisation of the curriculum, peer-supported review (Dhimar, 2011) and evaluation of learning and teaching and academic practice.
My teaching has focused in the discipline of Education Studies, which involved the analysis and academic study of all forms of education including further and higher education, and lifelong learning. My approach to teaching and supporting learning stems from an innate personal interest for higher education, teaching and learning. I strongly believe that higher education is a powerful catalyst for change and is able to transform the lives of students, staff, organisations, communities and businesses to promote growth and development for the benefit of our society.
Over the last 4 years I have primarily supported the development of the professional recognition service, working with individuals, institutions and organisations across the UK and internationally in the area of the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) and HEA Fellowship. As a sector we’ve got something of real interest in the form of the UKPSF and it is becoming increasingly in demand, globally. My work takes me across the 4 UK nations and beyond including delivery of regular business development opportunities and consultancy with countries and institutions internationally. For me, this is hugely rewarding and makes working in higher education such a fulfilling experience. As we grapple with different cultural contexts, multiple languages and global higher education sectors which unearth multiples layers of complexity in HE teaching and learning, these issues deserve to be explored and investigated if we’re to aspire to a stronger global understanding of the needs of teaching and learning in higher education.
Back on home ground, I’m continually motivated and inspired by the impressive work we do as higher education professionals and regularly work on a 1-2-1 basis with those who engage in our HEA writing retreats. Influenced by the work of Murray and Newton (2009), and in collaboration with colleagues, I’ve designed, planned and delivered the HEA’s professional recognition writing retreat series. Now in its third year, they have been proven to be popular with individuals. It’s a chance to take-stock, think and consolidate one’s own professional experience. Asking self-reflective questions such as - what have I done, why did I do it that way, how do I know it works and what happened as a result of my work?
Self-review alignment – take away message
Four self-review questions to adopt throughout your claim:
What did you do?
Concise description of engagement including own role and responsibility
How and why did you do it?
Explanation of approach/methodology employed plus evidence and rationale for choices made (Core Knowledge and Professional Values)
What difference did it make?
Impact on learners/teachers/self/institution/beyond
What did you learn?
How might practice have been changed as a result?
All these questions and more form the basis of our retreats, while enabling "time out" to focus on writing – a privileged opportunity during our busy working lives. Through our evaluation of the retreats it has been wonderful to find they are highly valued as indicated by a number of comments and feedback from delegates. For example, “This was absolutely what I needed and can't praise it highly enough. The one-on-one feedback and availability of HEA staff to answer questions and help me through the process was invaluable. I would definitely recommend a writing retreat to a colleague considering applying as an HEA Fellow at any category”.
I have to say, over the years I’ve lost count of the many many hundreds of people I have worked with and supported – we’re seeing the scale and demand for HEA Fellowship continuing to rise exponentially. I’ve had the opportunity and privilege to have many positive encounters with those aspiring to achieve HEA Fellowship at one category or another. For me, to be able to explore the professional contexts of colleagues, each with their unique story and career trajectory in higher education is absolutely fascinating. Making sense of their professional identities, achievements, challenges, goals and aspirations is hugely rewarding – particularly when these experiences are unearthed through initially implicit and then explicit awareness and understanding of what higher education professional do, why they do it, how they do it, and how they know it works. Whether it is through institutional HEA Accredited Provision or direct application to the HEA, we’ve come to learn that a claim for HEA Fellowship at any of the four categories of Fellowship (Associate Fellow, Fellow, Senior Fellow or Principal Fellow) can be a very useful indicator to demonstrate to students, peers, institutions and wider stakeholders of the effectiveness and success of the work we’re doing to teach and/or support learning in higher education. For some it can be life changing, resulting in career changes and opening up opportunities for new professional experiences.
I’ve been most recently excited about work I’m leading this year relating to recognition, reward and promotion in higher education. Continuing the HEA’s work (2009, 2013) to explore the extent to which HE providers recognise and reward teaching and believe that teaching should be properly rewarded and recognised – we are currently running a Career Progression and Staff Transitions Strategic Enhancement Programme involving 26 institutions from across the UK HE sector. Now in its second year, the work is creating and managing a community of practice to test, validate and promote current and new thinking for example in the area of HR policies, career progression and pay and promotions. This is a significant development for the sector, bringing together HR colleagues and staff/education developers to promote change in reward and promotions for teaching in HE. A sample range of current projects include:
- Develop HR pay and promotions policies, including recognition of achievement of HEA Fellowships, Postgraduate teaching assistants and part time staff, understanding of scholarship of teaching and learning
- Support for the implementation of a career progression structure, incorporating staff development, reward and recognition to enhance the quality and impact of learning and teaching, within our Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Framework.
- Consider how the HEA’s UKPSF could be embedded in policy and practice as a means of supporting institutional aims and objectives
- Pilot to explore Remaining in Good Standing and engagement in academic CPD. Identifying effective ways to evidence Good Standing of our staff who teach or support learning across the institution
- Embed the UKPSF in HR policies and practice and looking at remaining in good standing
- Contribute to Talent Management Framework and development of the staff employment lifecycle within teaching and learning strand of the framework
- Recruitment, professional behaviours, pay and promotion, and performance development review process
- Embed the UKPSF in HR policies and practice and looking at remaining in good standing
- Alignment of HR processes, induction, probation, appraisal and reward to support the Learning and Teaching vision and plan
- Develop routes for experienced staff to gain HEA fellowship, good standing and new career routes
- Career progression, appraisal, academic standards and recruitment in line with new institutional strategy
So my questions for you are…
What does HEA Fellowship mean to you?
How are you recognising and rewarding teaching in your institution?
- Dhimar, R. (2011), Peer-Supported Review (PSR), An inclusive approach to professional development in learning, teaching and assessment, British Educational Research Association conference http://www.slideshare.net/llrrd1/british-educational-reconference2011peersupportedreviewevaluation
- HEA, (2009), Reward and Recognition of Teaching in Higher Education: A collaborative investigation: Interim Report, GENIE Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/detail/publications/Reward_and_Recognition_Resource
- HEA, (2013), Rebalancing Promotion in the Higher Education Sector: is teaching excellence being rewarded? https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/workstreams-research/themes/reward-and-recognition
- Murray, R. and Newton, M. (2009), Writing retreat as structured intervention: margin or mainstream? Higher Education Research & Development, Taylor and Francis http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07294360903154126
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