Celebrating 500 Fellows at Swansea University – Fellowship – reflecting can be refreshing!

Tell us about yourself – Marcus Doel:

I joined Swansea University as a Professor of Human Geography in 2000, having spent the previous decade as an early to mid-career academic learning my craft in Liverpool and Loughborough, and now I also get to enjoy being part of the University’s senior leadership team, as a Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor, focusing on Research and Innovation, especially our preparation for REF 2021, whilst all the while continuing to teach undergraduate and postgraduate students.

It is not just about getting a new title, a fancy certificate, and yet another forgettable number, it’s about demonstrating a public commitment to teaching excellence and professionalism

Why did gaining Fellowship recognition matter to you? Why apply?

As a Professor and a Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor, I felt that it was important to lead by example and secure Fellowship recognition from the Academy. I expect everyone who teaches students to do so to the best of their ability, and one way to demonstrate a commitment to excellent teaching is to make the effort to seek Fellowship. It is certainly not the only way to demonstrate one’s professional commitment – far from it – but it is definitely a powerful statement – to our students, our colleagues, and, perhaps most importantly, to ourselves. I am proud to have been deemed a Fellow, and always happy to hear when other colleagues have been similarly acclaimed – whether that be as an Associate Fellow or even as a Principal Fellow.

What did you “glean” from the process of preparing an application with reference to the UK PSF?

it made me reflect on my teaching career and my teaching practice in unexpected and refreshing ways. I surprised myself on many occasions

I was really pleased to be able to seek Fellowship through our in-house route, because that seemed to be well structured and well supported, nimbly navigating through the weird and often bizarre jargon of the UK PSF. It took me a couple of days to get into the groove of the counter-intuitive lingo, another couple of days to draft my case on PebblePad, and a final couple of days to gather the evidence and get the whole application ready for submission. Each of those three stages turned out to be quite enlightening, since it made me reflect on my teaching career and my teaching practice in unexpected and refreshing ways. I surprised myself on many occasions. When I started out on my application I had grand visions of applying for a Senior Fellowship, but quickly realised that achieving that was easier said than done. Full respect to those with impressive case studies! So, I opted for a vanilla Fellowship instead. Still not easy to accomplish by any stretch of the imagination, but a joy to hold nonetheless.

How it has impacted the way in which you think about educating learners in the Higher Education environment?

I am now much more conscious of the value of pedagogic research rather than simply assuming that ‘best practice’ will someone infuse into me from the scholarly ether.

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?

For me, the most important element by far was the ‘Professional Values’ dimension of the Framework, and what was referred to in ‘V2’ (equality) and ‘V4’ (context) – not because of the dry, neoliberal language that the Framework used, but because it allowed me to articulate what I have always considered to be the key thing at stake in so-called ‘Higher Education’ – class struggle.

For someone not sure about applying, what words of encouragement could you offer?

It is not just about getting a new title, a fancy certificate, and yet another forgettable number, it’s about demonstrating a public commitment to teaching excellence and professionalism, and systematically reflecting on your own teaching philosophy and practice. What you learn from that can be extraordinary.

Just do it. And enjoy the ride.

 

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