Abu Dhabi University, the largest private university in the United Arab Emirates, has been investing significantly in its teaching offer over recent years.
The University is “committed to providing an engaging learning environment, quality education and qualifications that are respected worldwide.” A key strand of the work to deliver on that promise has been investment in staff development in teaching and learning, supporting lecturers who deliver teaching to those who lead the University’s teaching strategies.
The University is an International Access Member of Advance HE, working together through a number of courses over the years to build capacity in learning and teaching. In working towards Fellowship, underpinned by the Professional Standards Framework, academics embrace a reflective approach in their teaching, committing to continuously improve and enhance what they do so that they are rewarded and motivated through Fellowship, and their students benefit from a great academic experience.
The University now has 28 Fellows; four of them share their thoughts on the benefits of Fellowship and the impact that it has had on their teaching here:
The opportunity to participate in a professional development program, which enabled me to become an Advance HE Fellow, was an excellent opportunity to enhance my teaching and learning competence, and demonstrate my commitment to delivering high-quality student learning. In addition to the fact that it makes me more marketable as an accredited higher education professional, it also distinguishes me as a professional who embraces lifelong learning.
However, the most important benefit that I have gained from earning this certification is knowing that my skills, my knowledge and my teaching practice have been validated by experts in the field. In my case, teaching is intrinsic to me, but knowing that my pedagogical approaches and practices are corroborated by research has boosted my self-confidence. This has emboldened me further to consolidate my practice while trying new approaches.
As someone who is deeply committed to student engagement in the classroom and overall student success, my newly built confidence enhances students’ learning experiences and further strengthens my student-centred approach.”
Ms. Deenaz Kanji, Senior Instructor in Social Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences
I was motivated to become an Advance HE Fellow as I wanted an internationally accredited designation which reflected my competence as a higher education teaching and learning professional. Becoming a Fellow improved my understanding of the five areas of activity in higher education. In particular, my development journey to becoming a Fellow enhanced my ability to design different learning activities and to integrate them into my courses. It also developed a much deeper understanding of the need to support students throughout their learning process by taking into consideration the difference in their understanding levels and providing them with adaptive and diverse learning resources.
I am now also much more focused on the need to use diverse formative and summative assessment tools in my courses to keep track of my students’ learning and to support their specific learning needs when necessary.
Fellowship emphasized further the importance of introducing my students to different learning environments, such as real-life financial analysis, simulation on a virtual trading platform, and Bloomberg Market Concepts, to bridge the theory-practice-gap and to design authentic assessments.
It has inspired me to become more involved in continuing professional development activities and to incorporate more of my corporate governance and sustainability research findings into my courses in order to keep my students up-to-date on the latest trends, regulations, and future directions not only in the UAE but also on a global scale.”
Dr. Nejla Ellili, Associate Professor of Finance, College of Business
The Advance HE programme for experienced faculty at Abu Dhabi University was an excellent development opportunity to strengthen my teaching ability. My ultimate goal as a university educator is to engage students in a learning process which prepares them for success as constructive contributors to their future world. I achieve this by providing high-quality teaching and a range of student experiences to connect their learning to the ‘real’ world. As a patent holder, I am also passionate about innovation and seek to instil in my teaching practice activities which require creativity and problem solving as the bedrock for innovation. The swift transition to online learning during the pandemic forced me to critically reflect on my practice and recognize the need to adapt to new technology-enabled learning techniques and environments.
“Participating in the Advance HE programme allowed me to introduce these new competencies into my practice, which were underpinned by research and scholarship when designing courses, student engagement activities, and serving the academic and wider community. It is personally rewarding to have the internationally recognized Advance HE Fellowship and to be able to use the post-nominal FHEA after my name to communicate my commitment to teaching excellence.
I encourage my colleagues at Abu Dhabi University, and academic peers, to engage in development opportunities open to them and to also become Fellows of Advance HE to support their professional development."
Dr. Anas Altarabsheh, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, College of Engineering
I started my career as an assistant Professor over twenty years ago when I completed a postgraduate certificate in university teaching and became a Fellow. It was one of the most rewarding professional development experiences of my academic career. I have no doubt it supported my long-term career progression. Becoming a qualified university teacher gave me the necessary knowledge, skills and competencies that made my job easier, more enjoyable, and for my students to enjoy a much more enriched high quality learning experience.
“Since then, the Fellowship categories, underpinned by the UK Professional Standards Framework, have provided me with a benchmark and roadmap for professional development. It has allowed me to focus my professional development plan throughout my career, and progress from expert practitioner to strategic leader in higher education. Becoming a Principal Fellow is a professional milestone.
The application process is rigorous and makes you reflect on your leadership in terms of how you have aligned strategy with policy and implementation to enhance the quality and impact of teaching and learning institutionally. The Principal Fellowship focus on institutional improvement has allowed me to provide the necessary leadership to enhance Abu Dhabi University’s culture of student success enabled by faculty development."
Professor Philip Hamill, Associate Provost for Research and Academic Development, Abu Dhabi University
Mirroring its investment in individual and collective teaching enhancement was the launch two years ago of Abu Dhabi University’s Employability Strategy which signalled its intent to improve graduate outcomes. The strategy is the outcome of a collaboration between the University and Advance HE to develop an innovative, high impact employability strategy, with practical steps to embed employability within the curriculum, while concurrently developing co-curricular and extra-curricular activity, with the ultimate aim being to enhance student satisfaction and improve graduate outcomes.
Ian Hall, Advance HE Head of Membership (International) said, “We have a very close and productive relationship with the Abu Dhabi University. It’s been great to work in collaboration with them as members of staff have achieved Fellowship, and with the leadership team, supporting their strategy to invest in teaching and learning.”
Professor Philip Hamill, who leads Abu Dhabi University’s work with Advance HE, said, “Our Fellows reflect the energy and determination of the University to provide an engaging learning environment and quality education. More of our academics are working towards Fellowship, and they will reinforce our capabilities individually and as an institution.
“This is a great message for our whole community: for the staff whose work is being recognised and rewarded; and for our students – present and future – who will enjoy an ever-improving academic experience.”
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 here.
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