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Developing effective mentoring approaches in a changing context of practice

04 Jun 2021 | Jasper Shotts Associate Professor Jasper Shotts shares his progress since becoming a Senior Fellow.

Since becoming a Senior Fellow in 2016, I have recently reflected on how this has impacted significantly on my continuing professional development in teaching and leadership.

I have become increasingly confident and clearer about my academic identity and those aspects of leadership that enable me to mentor colleagues in most effective ways. The themes of student engagement and leadership of innovation featured strongly in my Senior Fellow application and a participatory pedagogy continues to drive my developmental approach. Being mindful of these key assets informs the way I mentor others. Over the last five years I have achieved some outstanding mentoring outcomes, and directly supported over 40 colleagues to Senior Fellowship recognition.

Building further on my student engagement expertise, I was successful in applying to join The Student Engagement Partnership (TSEP) @ NUS Connect – a national steering group. I developed further external networking activities with Advance HE, and the Jisc student insight service Digital experience insights | Jisc. Drawing from sustained activities as an Jisc expert panel member and facilitator, my knowledge of Jisc's research led me to collaborate with Talis to design a new Talis Elevate digital platform now used widely across the sector to support active and interactive online learning.

As Dean, I coordinated the University of Lincoln's response to the OfS' digital teaching and learning review during Covid-19. The review report highlights how through my work, a university can use student panels to work strategically with student voice through staff-student partnerships for learning to respond effectively to student experience in uncertain and changing times.

The combination of internal and external scholarly activities enabled my promotion to Associate Professor, and then Dean of Lincoln Academy of Learning and Teaching from 2018-2020, where I led on the accreditation of an internal fellowship recognition scheme and developed University mentoring strategy.

Developing more inclusive mentoring approaches

As a mentor, getting colleagues started on their academic development journey can be challenging, due to lack of time and lack of clarity in who to mentor and what to offer participants. To address this, I worked with networks within academic communities to identify examples of effective approaches and combine mentoring and action learning set activities to facilitate engagement and peer collaboration. As the Professional Standards Framework (PSF) has become more inclusive and international, I developed a Senior Fellowship progression pathway within my organisation for professional services colleagues to address some of the barriers faced. A book chapter I have written with a colleague about how we pioneered a new approach to address cultural barriers to progression is pending publication.

Another activity I did that helped me to develop more inclusive mentoring approaches was working with colleagues on the Race Equality Charter to identify where mentoring had led to progression for ethnic minority staff and then use emerging case studies to adjust future mentoring approaches.

Through the Covid-19 context, I have sustained most effective approaches online. My sustained work with Jisc has increased my skills in mentoring in virtual environments.

Mentoring for teaching excellence and wider recognition

I have mentored some highly talented colleagues – first to Senior Fellowship recognition, then their promotion, and, finally, to wider external and professional recognition. Critical to my success in achieving this is how I have worked with networks to identify talent, used good timing and established a combination of internal and external developmental targets with individual colleagues from the beginning of the mentoring relationship.

Overall, my biggest developmental gain from Senior Fellowship recognition over the last five years is the ability for strategic leadership and networking across and beyond organisational boundaries, together with that of being able to recognise and direct talent through mentoring approaches.

Jasper Shotts is Associate Professor in the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Lincoln and was Dean of Lincoln Academy of Learning and Teaching 2018-2020 where he led on academic development and student engagement projects.

Fellowship

Fellowship demonstrates a personal and institutional commitment to professionalism in learning and teaching in higher education. Across four categories, from Associate to Principal, Fellowship provides individuals with recognition of their practice, impact and leadership of teaching and learning.

Find out more about recognition for your expertise through Fellowship.

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