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My Fellowship Journey

09 Apr 2018 | Sarah Wolfenden Sarah Wolfenden, Lecturer in Higher Education, Brunel University London.

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

Sarah works at Brunel University London as a Lecturer in Higher Education based in the Brunel Educational Excellence Centre (BEEC). Prior to that she spent five years at Brunel Library as a Subject Liaison Librarian, supporting Social Sciences and running the information and digital literacy programme. Her main role is to run workshops focusing on best practice in educational development and to coach and mentor new academics through the APEX programme to gain HEA Fellowship status. Here she shares her own Fellowship journey, which she has blogged about on her personal blog page.

At the beginning of 2016, I decided to look into what gaining accreditation for my teaching involved. As my confidence had taken a nose-dive after various personal issues, I felt I needed to ‘prove’ myself again.

Rather than repeat everything I’ve done for it, here are a few links to the process I went through:

  • Embarking on Fellowship: More reasons as to why I started the process, an outline of the different types of recognition the Higher Education Academy provides and the various routes my institution provides to gain the award.
  • Choosing an FHEA mentor: I was required to have a mentor who was absolutely marvellous. This post covers what traits are required in a mentor and how I chose mine.
  • FHEA progress to date: Reflective Assessment Portfolio. I was required to write and collate a portfolio. This post contains information about what that consisted of and a more detailed look at the core knowledge and professional values I needed to demonstrate across the five small and two large case studies, as well as the professional development plan.
  • Technologies, peer-assisted learning, FHEA case studies...with a touch of Frost. This post goes into more detail about the two larger case studies submitted in the portfolio. The workshops were observed by academics at my institution, one of whom was my mentor. They offered feedback on improvements and used them to inform the references they provided – another requirement of the Fellowship application.

So, these are the advantages I've found in doing this:

Recognition – The award and the letters show to others that I currently teach to the standard set by the Higher Education Academy. If I wish to continue working in ‘teaching and learning’, which I do, then this is a useful addition to my CV.

A closer relationship with the members of staff - A member of an academic division has observed a workshop, offered improvements and written me a glowing reference. Another has mentored me for the last nine months and she is now more aware of what my work involves. She has been incredible in her support. She also observed a workshop and provided an amazing reference. I generally find it quite challenging to accept help but this has encouraged me to do that.

Putting my own work into context – Teaching is a large percentage of my role: I deliver inductions for new students; workshops and lectures for a range of Social Science cohorts; mindfulness workshops, and social media workshops to faculty and students. I also co-ordinate and promote my workplace’s digital literacy programme. I am generally up to date with most of what’s happening in the education sector, however, this has been a timely reminder to remain aware of the impact of external factors on the way I enable students to learn.

Ultimately, I think it has been worth the effort for the reasons above and because it has helped me to regain some of my confidence. Of course, the point of doing this is to keep improving and learning, so it’s not the end and I'm looking forward to developing further.

Find out more about Fellowship.

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