Developing as a university teacher
In my first year of teaching I was asked to tutor a subject I’d never done as an undergraduate. I went to all of the lectures because I wanted to learn the content, however I still felt like I was just winging it when teaching!
Before this year, I’d never done any formal professional development in learning and teaching. I’d been to tutor training and marking calibration sessions, and I knew my subject matter, but didn’t really know there was professional development and recognition available for sessional academics.
I heard about Fellowship and the Foundations of Learning and Teaching professional development workshops offered by QUT Academy of Learning and Teaching (QALT) through the regular QUT email to PhD students. I liked the idea of not only getting the skills to improve my teaching, but also recognition for those skills.
I went to the workshops in early 2019 and basically my mind was blown. A lot of the things I was already doing, but much of it was new.
Using technology like GoSoapBox and collecting instant feedback from my students was something I tried in my classes straight away. Before that, I’d never thought of asking students how I was doing – I wanted them to think I knew what I was doing! But the great reaction from my students helped me to realise we can always improve, whether as students or as teachers. The only difference was checking in with them and getting their feedback – and they loved it. I received my highest student survey scores (4.7/5) just from this small adjustment. One of the comments was that I was knowledgeable and they felt supported.
I also found it really helpful to learn about effective feedback because I’d previously give quite vague feedback on assessment and I had a number of students contact me and ask for more information.
Working towards Associate Fellowship
I attended the Teaching Advantage 3-day workshop (facilitated by Professor Abby Cathcart PFHEA and Professor Larry Neale SFHEA) because I wanted to apply for Associate Fellowship to support my plans for an academic career. There is so much I learned in Teaching Advantage and I liked how the program had a heavy focus on improving you as a teacher as well as preparing you for Fellowship. Everyone sharing their stories was really good – the little tips about what everyone was doing in class, such as Stop-Start-Continue, and acknowledging the struggles that everyone else was having made me feel normal!
Beforehand, the only experience I had of teaching others was what I liked as a student. My professional development and working on my Fellowship application made me realise that just because I like something, not everyone might. It also encouraged me to look at the literature and realise what engages students. I will also use my new skills and knowledge in my part-time role training people in workplace health and safety.
I really like how the university encourages and supports PhD students and sessional academics to apply for Fellowship. I wouldn’t have done it if not for all the support and encouragement from QALT and how the university promotes the fellowship scheme.
A new Associate Fellow and a new parent
I do find teaching really rewarding and I want to become a permanent academic in the future. I wanted to submit my AFHEA application before going on maternity leave, so that I would have that recognition to come back to. However, my daughter Paige had other ideas, and I finished and submitted my application from hospital a few days after Paige arrived.
After reflecting on my teaching while writing my AF application, I feel like I’m equipped to explain things in a different way and understand how different students learn.
The process of critical reflection, where you’re forced to take a step back and say ‘Ok, what worked well and what didn’t work well’ and ‘what do I know now and what would I like to focus on next semester in teaching?’ was very useful.
I also like that it’s an internationally recognised scheme. I’m attending my first Fellowship Forum at QUT this week and looking forward to meeting other members of the Fellowship community.
About QUT Academy of Learning and Teaching
The QUT Academy of Learning and Teaching (QALT) supports QUT staff to develop and gain recognition for their skills as educators. This work is underpinned by the Advance HE Professional Standards Framework (PSF) as an established benchmark of teaching quality.
QALT was excited to welcome Rebecca to the Fellowship community and impressed by her dedication in submitting her AFHEA application just days after giving birth to her daughter, Paige.
QALT also supports other Australian and international institutions to recognise Fellows, develop their own Fellowship community and achieve accreditation as Advance HE members.
We are proud to have now recognised over 750 Fellows at QUT, making QUT the largest Fellowship community outside of the UK. QALT Director, Professor Abby Cathcart, is also an Advance HE Global Strategic Advisor for the region.
Professor David Carless will be discussing designing effective feedback processes for large classes at the Queensland University of Technology and Advance HE Fellowship Forum on the 31 October 15.30 AEST, open to all Fellows.
Fellowship demonstrates a personal and institutional commitment to professionalism in learning and teaching in higher education. Find out more here.