Learning and Teaching Professional Recognition Scheme

On Wednesday 23rd January (yes, that long ago – life, or more to the point, work being very busy, has got in the way since I started this post!), I attended a two hour introductory session for the Learning and Teaching Professional Recognition Scheme (LTPRS). This scheme is accredited to the Higher Education Academy (HEA/Advance HE) and through it employees of this university can gain professional recognition from the HEA, in alignment with their Personal Standards Framework, for the work we do here.

There are four levels of professional recognition that can be gained through this scheme:

  • Associate Fellow (AFHEA)
  • Fellow (FHEA)
  • Senior Fellow (SFHEA)
  • Principal Fellow (PFHEA)

These are not teaching qualifications but are internationally recognised titles. In order to gain one of these titles, you need to submit a portfolio which demonstrates that you meet all the requirements of that title/descriptor. You can see what the requirements for each descriptor are in the “Personal Standards Framework” linked to above.

This post will briefly outline the requirements so that if you see/hear the terms “FHEA” or “SFHEA” or “Fellowship scheme”, you know what is involved, and, if it is relevant for you, enough of an insight to help you decide whether to embark on this path. (NB if you are working at Sheffield uni and want to apply for recognition through the LTRPS scheme, you need to attend an introductory session, like the one I attended. These are really useful as, in addition to useful background information, they help you identify which descriptor to aim for and give you opportunities for discussion with other would-be applicants and asking questions to the scheme representatives who run the sessions.) It will also, in keeping with the ethos of this blog, offer some of my own thoughts/reflections on it!

The portfolio has 4 assessed elements:

  1. An “About me/my contribution to the learning and teaching strategy” statement
  2. Mapping of practice, with evidence, to the requirements as laid out in the framework
  3. 4 Examples of practice/case studies, which give a clear, critically evaluated picture of your practice, with reference to relevant literature and to the descriptors.
  4. Two referee statements to support your claims

The “About me/my contribution to the learning and teaching strategy” statement needs to be 1000 words, of which about 500 are about who you are/what you are doing at the uni (provides context for your application, as the assessors don’t know anything about you) and about 500 about your contribution to the university’s learning strategy.

The mapping of practice requires short supporting statements using brief examples, to which you need to attach one to three pieces of evidence. A piece of evidence may be used for more than one statement but must be attached in each place and clear reasoning of relevance should be present in both places. You need strong artefacts of evidence for each area. If a piece of evidence is large, you should include direction to specific relevant points of it. This is particularly important where you are using one piece of evidence to support different statements.

The examples of practice should each be 600 words and if you are going for the SFHEA, then at least 2 must focus on D3 VII (“Successful co-ordination, support, supervision, management and/ or mentoring of others (whether individuals and/or teams) in relation to teaching and learning”) as this differentiates between FHEA and SFHEA. In these write-ups, you need to refer to the literature but the reference list is not included in the word count.

The referee statements should use the template provided. Ideally they should be familiar with the framework, which would be the case if they themselves are already fellows.

Within the LTRPS scheme, so applying for recognition through Sheffield University’s scheme, you will use PebblePad (which I keep thinking of as PebblePusher or Pebbledash but I have no idea why!) to create your portfolio which will include the above-mentioned elements. Once you have signed up and got access (which is not possible until AFTER you have attended an introductory session), it is preloaded with your “workbook” or, the skeleton of the portfolio, which you will build up by putting your words and pieces of evidence into the correct places. If you apply for recognition directly to HEA, the same things have to be demonstrated, in terms of mapping practice and examples of practice, but you wouldn’t have the structure provided by the Sheffield uni scheme (the “PebblePad” workbook, in other words).

Either way, it is important to avoid, yes, avoid, any modesty – personal pronoun “I” should be used throughout! – as you need to demonstrate what YOU, as an individual, have done, in terms of the framework. Teamwork is great but it needs to be clear what YOUR role in that teamwork was.

For the Sheffield scheme, there are three submission points per year and in order to submit you have to give notice of your intention to submit in advance, by a given deadline. This is so they can make sure they have enough assessors to look at all the applications. If you give notice of your intention to submit but then are not ready by the deadline, it isn’t a problem and you can withdraw from that submission point with no penalties or problems.

Here is a copy of the framework.

This document, Dimensions of the Framework, from the same website, is a useful break-down of the framework, giving information about how you could evidence different aspects of it. (I have found this very helpful for getting my head around the framework and the “mapping of practice” element. I put it into Mendeley and highlight/annotated the heck out of it!)

My thoughts/reflections

For me, this is an interesting approach to CPD. To map your practice to the framework (so, in my case so far, annotating that “Dimensions of the Framework”!), you have to critically evaluate what you are doing and how it relates to ‘the bigger picture’. In doing that, you are able to identify areas where you could do more and get ideas for what that “more” could be. I imagine it is entirely possible for it to be a (somewhat time-consuming!) box-ticking exercise, that you “get over and done with” as quickly as possible, but I don’t want to approach it that way. I want to use it as a springboard for development.

I am aiming for SFHEA and I think this is a plausible goal given my current role. However, I have only been in my position for just under a year (at the end of this term, it will be a year – unbelievable!) so am by no means experienced. Doing this SFHEA application will be a way to build on my experience in a systematic way and will give me a means of critically evaluating my practice as I develop it. I hope it might also give me more confidence in what I am doing. I am prone to anxiety and impostor syndrome, so in that context the framework provides some support – if I use it to improve my practice, and can provide evidence of meeting all the various aspects of the SFHEA descriptor, that will be something I can draw on for reassurance when my anxiety kicks in. So, I am not sure when I will be submitting a portfolio – there are submission deadlines in April 2019 (clearly not), October 2019 (unlikely) and then January/April/October 2020 (more feasible!)  to “choose” from. I’m not in a hurry so I suspect it will be “a 2020 thing”, but the process began with the introductory session and has already influenced my practice.

Annotating that document was my starting point, and, as mentioned, it has already started to influence my practice. However, what I am realising is that I have had a bit of a mental block going with regards to the “personal statement” and “examples of practice” elements. Partially I have just been very busy with work stuff and writing deadlines, so haven’t had time to make a proper start on them but partially I have also been putting it off because I haven’t been in the right frame of mind (hello anxiety!), which is also part of the reason why this post has taken so long to write…  The frame of mind is still a bit iffy at the moment, but for once in a way this week I have had a bit of time, at work, for CPD, and have met my other CPD-related writing deadlines, so I can’t justify putting it off any longer (hello bull, let’s have your horns!). One thing I have done is I’ve started writing a blog post about what I do here, as an ADoS, just as part of the thought process/brainstorming for the personal statement, which I need to finish and publish. What I then need to do is take the step of opening a blank word doc (or a piece of paper) and start actually writing either the personal statement or one of my examples of practice. I have ideas for the latter as well (buried amongst my previously mentioned annotations!), just need to pick one and run with it (then repeat). Rather than away from it…!

Anyway, enough wittering. I’m sure lots of people do it with a lot less fuss than me, but if any of this part of the post resonates with you, at least now you know it’s not ALL people who do it super fast, no fuss :-p Thing is, whichever way it is, we (anyone aiming to apply for recognition, including me) can all get there in the end and learn from it! 🙂

I will leave you with some questions:

  • Are you applying for associate fellowship/fellowship/senior fellowship?
  • Do you have any other kind of professional recognition where you are, which is similar yet different?
  • Whether or not you answered “yes” to the above, what do you think of this kind of professional recognition scheme?

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