Debbie Jones, Director of Undergraduate Criminology shares here experience of gaining first Fellow, then Senior Fellowship recognition. She gained a student-nominated ELTA in 2018 and has been researching the regulation of the sex industry with Professor Tracey Sagar since 2008. (More details about Debbie: https://www.swansea.ac.uk/staff/law/deborahjones/)
I saw seeking Senior Fellowship recognition as an opportunity to reflect on the curriculum development and design and leadership in assessment that I’d undertaken
“I started work at Swansea University in 2008. Before that I worked in the police force and so it was a big stepping stone coming to teach in Higher Education.
Initially, I had little training for teaching. I was mainly supporting seminars and engaged with the small group teaching course available at the university at the time which was very helpful. But I wasn’t prepared for the wider teaching role and so I embarked independently on the PGCert in Higher Education. I felt it was important to ensure I added value to the student’s learning through the course and doing some Action Research as part of that course in particular enabled me to develop the portfolio work on embedding employability within our curriculum. This certificated course was accredited with the HEA and so I gained Fellowship recognition upon my completion.
I have been programme director for several years and over that time redesigned the criminology curriculum, taking into account student and staff feedback, what’s going on in the sector and it’s been really successful, with very positive NSS scores. I saw seeking Senior Fellowship recognition as an opportunity to reflect on the curriculum development and design and leadership in assessment that I’d undertaken. It also aligned with my participation in the Aurora Leadership course and so it was useful to reflect back on leadership and teaching.
The UKPSF dimensions of practice can be confusing and off putting – written in sometimes jargonistic language and I did find it difficult to align with what I’ve done. What was particularly gratifying though was to see that the professional values I upheld personally were also represented in the UKPSF professional values and so it gave positive affirmation that my practice was in line with those. The process of putting in a claim for Senior Fellowship gave my confidence in my abilities and confirmed that my ideas for curriculum development were sound and aligned with standards in HE.
I found the application writing challenging. While the examples on Blackboard are useful, it can be distracting to refer to them since each one is personal to the individual and there is no right or wrong answer! It took a while for me to come up with an application format that worked for me. I also found it challenging to isolate what was my leadership role in what is ultimately team success.
But more positively – the training was very helpful, the examples as I’ve said before were helpful and I must be in a minority as I like Pebblepad! I’m not a particularly tech savvy person and so in a very practical way, getting to know the software enhanced my IT skills.
Moving forward, I’m continuing to lead the programme and I believe passionately about providing staff with the support needed to develop their skills and provide an environment which encourages creativity and innovation in assessment and technology. As a teaching mentor and Senior Academic Mentor I can support new lecturers with their practice and support to students and encourage them as they develop new modules.
So, just do it and apply! Not just for the recognition it granted, but take the opportunity to reflect on your practice and look for areas to improve upon.
Note: for help interpreting the UKPSF Dimensions of Practice, see these resources available on the HEA’s website: https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/dimensions-framework