As an early career academic with ambitions of a career in academia, I spend much of my time and energy on doing research and writing papers. This is what we are judged on. This is what matters. Or is it?
When I entered academia as an undergraduate student, I did not find many of my teachers and lectures impressive. The classes were large and mostly consisted of covering the material on the blackboard, overhead (yeah - some still used that in the mid 00s) or PowerPoint. As I progressed through my studies, I learned that many saw teaching as a “necessary evil” to do research. Indeed, for a very long time, academics were judged on the basis of their research outputs and grant income alone. Teaching did not factor into it. Luckily for the students, this is now changing. More and more universities across Europe are now requiring new academic staff to engage with the ideas and pedagogy of learning and teaching in higher education as part of probabition. In the UK, this is articulated through the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF). Perhaps because of this, I viewed taking courses in pedagogy and teaching in higher education, as a way to gain a competitive advandtage in an increasingly competitive labor market for academics.
I am happy to say, that my thinking on learning and teaching has changed during my (short) time in academia. As cliche as it is, it has indeed been a journey. Over the last few months, I have spent more time thinking about and reflecting on my teaching practice. What am I good at? What can I be better at? I also find that I quite enjoy engaging with the students. The fact that many of them think so differently about the concepts we cover in class, forces me to think about these concepts differently, which helps develop and broaden my understanding. I find this particular aspect of teaching quite intriguing. I also remember from when I was a student; few of the classes I took were truly engaging, but the ones that were, I remember. Going forward, I try to bring more engagment into the classroom. I know that if I can engage the students, I can be a more successful teacher.
In the fall of 2018, I enrolled in the Post Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (PGCLTHE) program offered by Academic Development at the University of Stirling. This was written into the INSPiRE project as part of my skills training and professional development. The PGCLTHE is fully aligned with the UKPFS and accredited by the Higher Education Aacadmy. Upon completion of the program, you qualify for fellowship. I sucessfully completed the first module: LTHP100 - Designing and Facilitating Learning, and I am now an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I am currently enrolled in the second module of the program: LTHP200 - Assessing Learning, and I aim to enroll and complete the third and final module (LTHP300) this summer. The third module involves a more thorough investigation into our own teaching practice. This is currently work in progress and I look forward to sharing this with you closer to the summer (perhaps as late as this fall, depending).