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Becoming an HEA Fellow as a PhD student

16 Mar 2018 | Christian Jorgensen Christian Jorgensen, PhD student in Chemistry and Graduate Teaching Assistant, King's College London.

This blog was originally posted on the former Higher Education Academy website.

I am currently a final year PhD student in Chemistry at King's College London, and one of the first Graduate Teaching Assistants of that department. I have shouldered a fair burden of HE teaching during my 5 years here, including being commissioned to run a lecture series on Maths for Chemists in my fifth year of PhD.

I first heard about pursuing the Fellowship of the HEA during an introductory session at the King's Learning Institute (now King's Academy) for the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP). Under the guidance of Dr David Hay, Dr Deesha Chadha, Dr Michael Flavin, among others, I pursued this certificate alongside my PhD in the first two years of research, culminating in my application as a Fellow of the HEA. My mentors were very supportive, in particular in the useful feedback I received through various Teaching Observation Forms.

I found the PGCAP certificate studies and coursework very fulfilling. I was introduced to, among others, the idea of questioning your best practices in teaching. In my reading for Fellowship I was particularly inspired by the work of Lev Vygotsky on the Zone of Proximal Development and Instructional Scaffolding, in which the educator builds up an incremental scaffold of concepts for the learning, as well as by the work of John Biggs on the constructive alignment of a teaching course with its intended outcomes.

Being part of the HEA Fellowship has imbued me with better practices for teaching, and I consistently refer back to the Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) to check that my teaching and skills align well.

Find out more about Fellowship.

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