The Professional Standards Framework for Teaching and Supporting Learning (PSF) is an internationally-recognised framework for benchmarking success within higher education teaching and learning support. It was developed with the sector and introduced in 2006. It is at the cornerstone of Fellowship. Advance HE accredits programmes in meeting the criteria of the PSF which means successful participants are be eligible to be awarded one of the four categories of Fellowship: Associate Fellowship, Fellowship, Senior Fellowship or Principal Fellowship.
There are 168 institutions with accredited provision, including 22 outside the UK. And there are now over 122,000 Fellows world-wide. Findings from the latest Annual Review of Advance HE accredited CPD Schemes 2017-18 highlight the impact of this work, raising the profile of teaching and learning in 80% of these institutions. It also found that: “Senior Fellowship and Principal Fellowship is generating confident, influencing and supportive individuals who are leading learning and teaching across their institution and contributing to strategic policy” and that “there is some evidence reported that outcomes from involvement in the scheme is directly influencing the development of individuals’ teaching skills and innovative practices.”
Dr Rosalind Duhs PFHEA: At first sight, the notion of building a global standard of professional recognition may seem unrealistic. How can diverse institutions with strong individual identities in multifarious regions with varied cultures and approaches to education begin to share a global standard for the professionalisation of teaching in higher education? This blog outlines my journey from early scepticism to a strong belief in the viability of a global standard.
I have come to realise that whatever your background and wherever your institution is based, you will benefit from the wide-ranging advantages of gaining Fellowships underpinned by the PSF. The PSF combines rigour with flexibility in a remarkable, practical blend. The Framework is relevant to all HE staff who can evidence their effectiveness in teaching or supporting learning, whatever their role or location; it is the foundation of Advance HE’s global standard of professional recognition.
The prospect of my first international experience, collaborating with Australian universities, was initially daunting. I was acutely aware of Australasia’s ground-breaking achievements in foregrounding evidence-based approaches to teaching and learning in HE (for example Biggs, Boud, Brew, and Ramsden). However, my ‘imposter syndrome’ was short-lived. I soon realised that the institutions I was working with would benefit greatly from encouraging staff to gain Fellowships.
What are the advantages of Fellowship Schemes and how do they emerge? First, the enthusiasm generated from gaining formal recognition for your educational work through Fellowships is contagious. The award of a Fellowship is ‘empowering and encouraging to … teaching’ (UCL Fellowship Scheme participant, 2018). From small beginnings, I have seen institutions set up CPD Schemes which have quickly resulted in 50 early applications for Fellowships. This has been the case at the University of Western Australia, Perth, which recently gained accreditation for their Academy Fellowship Scheme.
Second, the potential for the growth of professionalism in teaching through Fellowships is considerable. An initial core of Fellows can mentor others and disseminate effective approaches to teaching and supporting learning. The University of Sydney is building a vibrant group of mentors and assessors for their Scheme. When I asked why they wanted to take on these roles, they explained that they had gained so much from the Fellowship application process that they wanted to give something back.
Third, participation is also valuable to institutions because Fellowship ‘gives…the impetus to work harder in improving the ways [you] teach’ (ibid). I also experienced this at a recent visit to the Australian National University, Canberra, where there are over 500 Fellows. Fellowship holders ran inspiring, well-attended workshops on teaching.
Beyond Australia, the engagement of staff at the Aga Khan University was impressive. They participated in a webinar across three continents (Karachi, Nairobi, and London), learning to review Fellowship applications.
My experience indicates that university communities generally share the belief that it is our ethical imperative as researchers and educators in a fast-changing world to do our utmost to help our students learn to be the best they can. A central aim of the PSF is the attainment of ‘high quality student learning’ through effective, successful teaching and learning support. This aim resonates across the globe, as evidenced by more than 90 countries engaging with the PSF, resulting in almost 6,000 international Fellows.
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