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My journey to becoming a National Teaching Fellow

11 Sep 2019 | Gita Sedghi Gita Sedghi, senior lecturer and internationalisation lead in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Liverpool talks about her challenges and joys of becoming a National Teaching Fellow 2019, reflecting on what becoming an NTF means to her and her future career plans.

It is a great honour for my work and contribution to student experience to be recognised by Advance HE as a National Teaching Fellow. I am excited about possible future collaborations with inspirational NTF and CATE colleagues and am keen to disseminate and share my practices with others.

My teaching and scholarship

My philosophy of practice is to inspire and engage a diverse community of students through the provision of inclusive teaching and learning. My passion for education has been nourished in part by my own personal circumstances of migrating from my country of birth in the Middle East and starting a new life, raising a family, and establishing a career. As a woman of colour teaching Chemistry and researching in education, I have put my own experiences of the challenges of accommodating to a new country and educational setting into practice to create an inclusive environment for both home and international students.

I have consistently engaged with the changing profile of our students, with the fundamental shift in their preparedness for, and experience of, studying Chemistry, and with the opportunities for study and placement abroad. My practice is rooted in a number of key areas: peer-assisted learning, mathematical skills, pre-lab training, and internationalisation.

Adapting and being prepared to change is essential in any organisation, especially in higher education. My strategy is to make improvements to teaching and learning through systematic change programmes. However, implementing change involves challenges and dealing with difficult situations. It entails influencing certain people and justifying the impact of the change. I believe that collaborative approaches and working in a team of people with a similar mindset will empower the change agents to communicate their visions, make future plans and act on shared ideas which will further improve learning and teaching. Signing up to leadership programmes, including Aurora, boosted my confidence and developed my skills in negotiation and leadership. 

Reflection on my journey to becoming an NTF

The application process was difficult and time consuming, making it one of the most hectic periods in my career. However, the journey to becoming an NTF was extremely useful in enabling me to reflect on my own practice. Although there were times that I felt the application was ready to submit, my critical friends and mentors suggested there needed to be more evidence to highlight both impact and positive outcomes. Despite the frustration at the time involving many rewrites of the application, the journey to NTF shaped my teaching and research and made me a more reflexive educator. It changed my perspective on transforming the student experience by knowing how to step back and think more deeply about my work. I have always been a proactive Liverpool mentor supporting staff to achieve Fellowships and promotion. Once again, I will put my knowledge into practice by advising my colleagues who are interested in applying for an NTF to develop their realistic goal setting, horizon scanning and critical self-awareness.

The process of change needs to be planned and implemented within the organisation carefully to ensure the success and sustainability of the new or improved system. It involves challenges and dealing with difficult situations. The NTF has boosted my confidence and given me a voice to challenge and influence change. It has assured me that I am probably doing the right thing, so I am more motivated than ever. I feel passionate about making the most of this experience to influence institutional policies in my own university as well as elsewhere, to promote innovative learning and teaching and to develop a culture that values teaching excellence at university.

Future plans: collaborative projects

I have been championing an integrated approach to academic practice within and beyond my institution through collaborative pedagogic projects with external partners and other departments at the University of Liverpool, staff-student partnerships, pedagogic research publications, and membership of internal/external committees.

I am particularly keen on joint projects in the areas of:

  • Internationalisation: Activities and strategies to enhance integration between home and international students and to improve students’ experience.
  • Peer assisted learning: A fundamental scheme to ensure home and international students adapt to the new academic environment.
  • Mathematics in science: Innovative delivery and assessment models to tackle the issues of learning and teaching Mathematics in a science context.
  • Pre-lab activities: A system to prepare students for practical work and to warrant health and safety.

I am keen on sharing these activities with other institutions, learning from colleagues who work in similar areas and initiate collaborative projects which I believe will result in a positive impact on students’ performance and experience. Please feel free to get in touch if you would like more information or to collaborate in any way.

Call for authors and reviewers

I am a member of the editorial board of the Learning Development in Higher Education (JLDHE) journal, which draws on my expertise in education and innovative learning and teaching practice to support authors and reviewers. I would like to invite NTF colleagues to publish in our journal which is aimed at those interested in all aspects of how learning is facilitated, and how it is experienced and achieved by students in higher education. Please get in touch if you would like to be involved.


Gita Sedghi is a senior lecturer (Teaching and Scholarship), MSc Advanced Chemical Sciences Programme Director and the Internationalisation Lead in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Liverpool. Gita’s teaching philosophy is based on inspiring and engaging a diverse community of students with chemistry through partnership.

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