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Motivation and Impact of HEA Fellowship on me

19 Nov 2018 | Advance HE Academics at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) reflect on their journey to being awarded HEA Fellowship. Professor Pamela Rowntree gives insight into the different categories of Fellowship, Dr Jennifer MacLeod focuses on the move from research into teaching, and diversity in STEM.  Dr Jose Manuel Serrano Santos examines the impact of community on teaching.

I have always strongly believed in advancing the recognition of teachers in higher education institutions where they are sometimes regarded less favourably than researchers. Over the years I have been fortunate to be rewarded for my learning and teaching activities through awards, grants, Fellowships and opportunities for promotion, but not all teachers are that lucky.

Applying for Senior Fellowship was a visible way to show that I valued the qualities described in the Framework, and a way of encouraging the staff around me to consider their own teaching values. Preparing the application caused me to reflect on my teaching but also to consider the impact it made not just on students but on colleagues both at QUT and elsewhere. Sometimes these things get lost in the busy day to day workplace but when you start to write them down you realise how many things you have done and the successes you have had.

In 2016 QUT developed accredited pathways to HEA Fellowship through the QUT Academy of Learning and Teaching (QALT) and we now have more than 600 HEA Fellows. In my current role I spend time supporting and encouraging colleagues to strive to provide quality learning experiences for our students. I enjoy acting as a mentor and a referee for teaching staff who are following the Fellowship application pathway. The different categories of Fellowship mean that those at the early stages of their teaching career can gain recognition for their teaching and learning activities.

My decision to apply for Senior Fellowship has been very rewarding both personally and professionally, and has brought with it opportunities to meet and engage with other like-minded colleagues and be part of an international community.

I recommend it to all those with a passion for teaching and concern for student learning.

Professor Pamela Rowntree is the Director of Academic Programs at the School of Clinical Sciences, Queensland University of Technology.

 Jennifer MacLeod

Since receiving my PhD in physics, I have progressed through a number of research-intensive roles.  These were great opportunities to develop my skills and interests as an experimental physicist, and to see the world, but afforded few chances to teach. A few years ago I arrived at QUT for another research-intensive position, but this time I was given the opportunity to lecture. 

I realised quickly after starting at QUT that I wanted to develop my skills as an educator.  The QALT proved to be a treasure trove of resources.  In particular, QALT offers workshops and a community that have been integral to my development and progression first to Associate Fellowship and then to Fellowship in the HEA.

Preparing my Fellowship applications has given me an important opportunity to become more intentional and reflective about my teaching practice, and to ensure that I am keeping pace with developments in pedagogy.  There is a lot of room for innovative, inclusive teaching practice in physics, but, as in any discipline, implementing new approaches requires both a thoughtful approach to planning and a critical reflection on outcomes.  Preparing HEA Fellowship applications gave me the scaffolding I needed to engage in both of these processes.
With increased recognition of the need for diversity in STEM, and in particular in physics, it is more important than ever that physics educators approach their practice thoughtfully and critically. 

HEA Fellowship, and the community I’ve found through QALT have given me the motivation and tools I need to continue to create learning environments that will engage and enable the STEM student cohorts of today and tomorrow.

Jennifer MacLeod is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemistry, Physics and Mechanical Engineering at Queensland University of Technology


Learning is inherent to us as humans and we even do it unconsciously. From learning how to walk, to repeating sounds and to using “smart” devices, we build up on our errors to independently improve ourselves. However, academia is a demanding setting driven by institutional key performance indicators grounded in teaching and learning principles which sometimes may distract us from focusing on those values that we were eager to transmit to students or team members when we initiated our journey as educators.

I began my career in academia in combination with my Health background as a pharmacist. Even as a pharmacist, the role as educator played a recognised part in the profession. It has now been more than 3 years since I obtained the Senior Fellow recognition from the HEA and since then I have encouraged numerous peers to participate in this highly valued community. Still, beyond any recognition, nominals or accreditation,

I perceived Advance HE as a ticket from “doing” all the way to “performing”, where those learning and teaching values so essential to us are allowed to bloom.

We all know how the wealth of our existence is dependent on us talking to each other, transferring knowledge and connecting to our environment. Having a platform for a global community of likeminded people has been an extremely powerful tool that has been very close to the heart of the QALT.

I believe that the impact of Fellowship on me has been immense mostly because it has provided me with access to those connections, and with that permission to rethink about what we do and how we do it. It is not the carrot and it is not the stick. It is a path to direct that genuine intrinsic motivation that is so close to us as teachers.

Dr Jose Manuel Serrano Santos lectures in Pharmacy in the School of Clinical Sciences at Queensland University of Technology. 

Find out more about HEA Fellowship or use our Fellowship Category Tool to find out which category of Fellowship your practice is most closely aligned to. 


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