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UCL’s 1,000th Fellow on the benefits of reflecting on teaching practices

05 Apr 2019 | Dr Anil Doshi Dr Anil Doshi, Lecturer in the Strategy and Entrepreneurship Group at the UCL School of Management, is UCL's 1,000th HEA Fellow, after completing the University's professional development scheme in the UCL Arena Centre. In this blog Anil discusses what it’s like to be celebrated as the 1,000th Fellow in the institution and the benefits of becoming a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).

I am a lecturer in the Strategy and Entrepreneurship Group at the UCL School of Management. My research focuses on digitization, platforms, and firm strategy, and I teach various modules on strategy and data analytics. My route to applying for fellowship started with the UCL Arena Centre for Research-based Education, which provided me with the opportunity to formalise my thinking on pedagogy and become a more effective educator.

The Arena Centre provides pedagogical support and professional development for staff who teach, or support teaching at UCL. Led by Dr Sam Smidt, Arena’s team of Teaching Fellows also teach or have taught in their own disciplines (such as Engineering, Physics, Scandinavian languages, History of Art and more). They encourage staff to engage with, and initiate, pedagogically sound mechanisms to develop and deliver evidence-based education, providing them with opportunities for dialogue, and space to discover scholarship in education that they can reflect upon and build into their own teaching.  Arena Fellows also work with departments across UCL to support them to assess the education and student experience they deliver, identify strengths and areas for improvement and provide bespoke training where required.

The Arena Centre provides several pathways to Fellowship, depending on seniority and background. In my first year at UCL I discovered Arena Two, which is aimed at Lecturers and Teaching Fellows on probation. It is now part of the probationary requirements at UCL to follow this pathway of professional development, though applying for Fellowship at the end is optional.

My time in Arena Two helped form the foundation for designing Business Strategy and Analytics, a module created for the MSc in Business Analytics (Management track). Applying for the Fellowship was a natural step after teaching the module for a few years. 

The application process served two purposes for me personally:

  • applying for the fellowship was a moment of reflection to appreciate my progress as a teacher; and
  • it helped me think through areas for improvement in teaching and in the module itself.

The Arena Two facilitators and other participating colleagues were the most influential aspects of the course. The team did an excellent job combining the latest theory in education and pedagogical research with practical suggestions and simulations to impart the principles espoused by Arena.

I also had many good conversations with colleagues about teaching. It was very valuable to have the opportunity to sit in on the class of a colleague from a different department to observe how teaching takes place there, and to have had colleagues sit in on my class and provide feedback. This multi-level approach to teaching and pedagogy sparked many lines of thinking on my teaching methods.

Another benefit of going through the Fellowship process was being able to devote some real time to develop and reflect on the assessment practices on my module. 

A challenge I faced was how to balance the uncertainty and ambiguity that surrounds strategy and data analytics projects in industry settings with the need to impose structure and definition on classroom assessments.

During Arena and associated workshops, I developed an approach which balances between the two. In addition to readings, I assign additional external resources (e.g. videos, lectures) prior to class, and I use class time as a “laboratory” where students practice, interact, and apply concepts. Following up on the class labs, assignments simulate “real world” applications of classroom themes. While the structure of assignment problems remains ambiguous, the rubric is based on four general principles (novelty, argument, mechanics, and communication), which are specified for each assignment.

Finally, although I have been celebrated as the 1,000th Fellow at UCL, I acknowledge and admire the work all my colleagues have put in to achieve their Fellowships. 

With the support and opportunities provided in the UCL Arena Centre, I am enjoying a different perspective to my teaching. I greatly enjoyed my experience reflecting on my teaching practices and gaining professional recognition for what I do. 

To find out more about Fellowship and which category may be appropriate for you, try the Fellowship Category Tool today and start your journey to professional recognition of your teaching and/or supporting learning practice.

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