I was awarded recognition of the HEA Senior Fellowship in August 2014. I was pleased that after two years of preparation and information gathering, I received recognition from my prepared claim and inclusion into the Academy. This journey was filled with a mix of emotion, experience and narrative. The recognition process directed me on a course of reflection that would deepen my academic standing and form a basis of continued support for my institution and the wider academic community.
As a designer I was determined to build my professional practice account from an interpretation of the Dimensions of Practice in a broad and creative manner. I believed the three Dimensions of the Framework were there for topical reference rather than structured guidance and that the uniqueness of my academic experiences would be enough to stand out. Design training encourages an alternative approach to interpreting processes and most actions. Initially, I saw the Framework and the Dimensions more as a briefing on the route to Fellowship and not as taut structural device that should be used to inform the tenor, structure and academic form for the claim. However, through attending HEA writing retreats and thinking deeply about my own practice, the resonances and expression of the language within the Framework began to inform my thinking and the mentorship of others. But, there were many false starts and rewrites before the importance of UKPSF percolated and touched all areas of my practice. Through this process, a new approach emerged as it became clear that the claim could be used to sharpen personal educational practice and build deeper reflective knowledge within the scope of my subject. Importantly, the D3 descriptor bolsters the role of mentoring and positions academic support and guidance at the heart of the descriptor. I recognised this as the centre of my claim, I was able to express my knowledge and experience through the use of the dimensions. My experiences and current responsibilities covered all the relevant components of the descriptor, but this needs to be fully extrapolated within the Account of Professional Practice (APP).
The initial use of an extended CV helped build the claim with experiential information, but developing the levels of reflection and understanding what evidence could be used in the claim was tricky. In many ways it is simple enough to consider, reflect and recount your professional and pedagogic career. Most academics cherish this opportunity. But ensuring this account is reflective and substantive enough is challenging, so the key is to ensure that all experiences, no matter how inconsequential or tangential are included in the process. The aim is to build a substantive account that considers deeply personalised roles and experiences. These are bound together using clear navigation and the signposting of pedagogic processes relating to the Dimensions.
The Senior Fellowship claim provided many twists and turns over a two-year period. Whilst wanting to encourage everyone to consider claims to the Academy and particularly Senior Fellowship, I would urge anyone not to rush the process and use the experience to further develop their practice. The recognition process turned out to be a significant act and has stimulated not only a process of deep reflection of my practice, but has also provided a framework for promotion and career advancement. I 'm currently an HEA Accreditor on recognition and accreditation and am part of the internal accreditation process within my institution.
Some thoughts on the Senior Fellowship:
- The Account of Professional Practice should have a clear, edited approach that outlines the evidence of targeting specific activities from your current and past practice. This should identify key threads of support and mentorship.
- Keep the style of writing as reflective, accessible and communicative. Positive language and open style allows the team of assessors to be able to see the practice, but also able to identify the evidence within the claim.
- Ensure editing of the APP contains relevant activities and that it builds a case through the identified activities. The key connectors that bring the elements of practice together should be used in conjunction with the Case Studies. Ensure the selected case studies are significant and evidence the identified practice and promote good standing.
- Be clear what you are evidencing and where it is evidenced in the claim. Use writing retreats, training and mentorship of others to help gain experience of the Dimensions within your claim. Consider carefully the selection of the referees.
Good Luck with your applications for your claim for Senior Fellowship.
Rod Adams, May 2015