“A fellow application will help to bring the best out of your teaching and professional practice.”
Tell us about yourself:
I’m Dr. Augustine Egwebe, I received my Ph.D. and B.Eng. degrees, in Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE), from Swansea University, Wales. I currently work as an Academic teaching tutor with the EEE portfolio at the College of Engineering, Swansea University, having supporting learning and teaching activities in HE/Swansea for at least seven years including my previous role as a laboratory demonstrator during my Ph.D. programme and in my current capacity as an academic teaching tutor.
Why did gaining Fellowship recognition matter to you? Why apply?
Whilst my learners and departmental colleagues continue to give me positive and encouraging feedback on my methods of teaching, I needed some measures to critic, validate and benchmark my approaches to learning and teaching in the HE. In a nutshell, I was looking for some kind of professional feedback on my work and luckily the HEA provided me with that platform.
Hence, a fellowship recognition offers me that invaluable tool to demonstrate my personal commitment to professional practices including my commitment to student engagement, the enhancement of the overall learner experience, helping the student to progress, and my continuing development as an educator.
What did you “glean” from the process of preparing an application with reference to the UK PSF?
It was a pleasure to see how my daily approach to learning and teaching fits into the wider HE context. I was able to deduce, from the process of preparing the application, that although I have fantastic teaching initiatives and contributions, it is important to sieve through, record each practice/contribution and map them to the UK PSF. This for me involve highlighting what is it that I have done, why was it done in the first place, what was the impact/effect on the learner, me & the institution, and how I can improve upon the various interventions.
I also deduced very quickly, from the application process, the role that my experience and collaborative research work play in how I teach and interact with the learners. I said to myself that this a reflective account, not some technical paper. Hence, I had to exercise the patience to probe through my work as an educator and to ensure to back up each relevant contribution with adequate evidence.
At first, this looks like a very huge mountain to climb as I have never done anything like this before. But with support and advice from my mentor and the SALT staff, I was good to go. I must say that I enjoyed every bit of the reflective writing process.
How it has impacted the way in which you think about educating learners in the Higher Education environment?
My perspective about learning and teaching in the HE has totally been transformed. Since engaging with the fellowship process and gaining the fellowship status, I now have a checkbox for each teaching intervention to ensure it aligns with the HE PSF. One key change for me now is that I now promote feedback for learning rather than the classical feedback of learning. I now also ensure that there is a two-way communication flow between me and the learners while offering timely and meaningful feedback.
What is the most important element of the UKPSF in your opinion – the Areas of Activity, Core Knowledge or Professional Values – or any particular one and why?
I particularly like all the items in the Core Knowledge (CK) as each Ks underpin my commitment to the subject material, appropriate methods for teaching, learning, and assessing including how the learners learn within subject to help harness cognitive and professional skills. I like the fact that the CK promote the use of technologies, including the use of blended learning approaches, to enhance the learning experience. Items K5 and K6 in the CK were quite unique, as I was able to map a handful of evidence to evaluate the effectiveness of my teaching and feedback approaches with reasonable consideration for quality assurance and enhancement.
What were good parts of the application process? What things were more challenging?
The background discussion about me and my teaching philosophy was straight forward to a good standard. This section offered me the opportunity to pitch my identity as an educator. I was able to successful link my methodologies to existing pedagogical literature. Section A1 also had a nice flow in my opinion, as this was mainly me telling the HEA panel about how I design and plan inclusive and engaging learning activities for the learners. I had a lot to say in this section.
I did find A3 a bit challenging as it focuses on how I access and give feedback to the learners. It can be difficult at times to get the right balance of bi-directional flow of interaction, between the learner and the educator when designing learning activities. Also, it took me time to source the right evidence that indicates that my feedback technique is effective. The sourcing and sorting of various evidence for each section of the application can be a bit tricky. But I did get there at the end.
I must say that since completing the application, I’ve gained a better insight on feedback and the possible measure for a constructive feedback method.
I would say my class is much lively and engaging thanks to the experience gained from the HEA application process.
How you have continued to apply the standards of the UK PSF in your work since gaining that recognition? i.e. maintaining good standing.
I’ve continued to engage in continuing professional development in my subject/discipline and my research. One of the added advantages of being a Fellow is that it opens door to advanced HEA training and workshops, I’ve been to attend a couple of these sessions. These sessions have helped me to gain valuable skills to improve my pedagogical practice for effective teaching and professional development.
For someone not sure about applying, what words of encouragement could you offer?
‘Keep it simple’.
The application process is an exciting process once you get down to it. A fellow application will help to bring the best out of your teaching and professional practice.
Firstly, I would advise that you ‘keep it simple’. You probably have more experience and evidence in your teaching practice/portfolio than you realize.
There are always things that you’ve done so well in the past. Start by itemizing all your experience, interventions, and contributions since joining the HE including support for individual teaching activities.
Do not just focus on the big things, even the little things count.
The next step is to reflect on each item in a constructive manner by asking the core question: In what way did this activity or intervention promote or influence learning? What is the general impact of this learning activity on the wider HE community? How do you measure or gather feedback on the adopted technique? Does the learning activity support or promotes of any of UK PSF?
You will never know how far you can go or how much you can achieve until you try, so just try and you will be amazed how much you can get done. I would also advise that you attend one of the SALT sessions for support.
What top tips would you offer to someone preparing a Fellowship application – any category?
“Don’t panic, take one step at a time”
Firstly, don’t panic, take one step at a time. Start by listing and mapping all potential experience and contributions (including activities for seminar, laboratory, learning support or field work), for each Area of Activity, using bullet points. Next, map at least two Core Knowledge or Professional Values per item and finally, tag a few shreds of evidence to each item on the list. The HEA fellowship self-diagnostic tool is a very handy document to use as it will help to strengthen your evidence.
Also, avoid the temptation of writing the application like a technical paper. I would advise that you write the application as reflective as possible. Ensure to spend the time to understand the various items in the UK PSF before mapping. Attend the various SALT seminar to get a clearer picture of what is expected of you. I found the SALT session very useful. Your mentor will always be there to support you through the process.
Finally, be disciplined with your time, and cultivate the habit of writing a short reflective account, each day, while preparing the fellowship application.