Suzan Koseoglu is an Academic Developer at the Teaching and Learning Innovation Centre, Goldsmiths University of London.
Every time I open the application form for FHEA, I just look at it for a few minutes, sigh, and close it again…
— Michael Seery (@seerymk) July 20, 2015
This is exactly how I felt before I started writing my FHEA application. You might find yourself in a similar situation, or perhaps you are eager to get started; either way, I thought it would be helpful to share what worked for me to successfully complete the application.
1. Use the self-diagnosis tool
Begin with the self diagnosis tool to better understand if you are a good fit for FHEA. This will also help you get familiar with the terminology and standards. And you will begin thinking about your application without even realising it.
2. Understand UKPSF
Understand what UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) is and what you are expected to demonstrate before starting your draft. The representation of the framework (see below) is a bit misleading for the FHEA – a more accurate representation would be to embed Core Knowledge and Professional Values into Areas of Activity.
Areas of Activity frame your writing (that’s your core focus, where you begin your writing). If you look at my application here, you will see that each heading in my application corresponds to one area of activity (For example, my first heading in my application is: A1: Design and plan learning activities and/or programmes of study)
Then as you are writing about these areas, you also make references to Core Knowledge and Professional Values (see below). In other words, you weave them into the activities you describe using examples from practice and by referring to relevant literature. (Note: Different institutions have different requirements so it would be good if you check the requirements first.)
For example, as you describe how you assessed and gave feedback to learners in an undergraduate module (That would be A3 above), you could also demonstrate your knowledge of how students learn in your discipline and how the assessment methods you used contributed to students’ learning (that would be K3 below) .
3. Read other applications
There are plenty of resources on the HEA website but what I found the most useful was reading successful FHEA applications (which is rather scarce on the web). I found two resources which helped me get a sense of the format and for deciding what to include in my writing. You might find the following reflections helpful (again, different institutions have slightly different requirements, so be aware of the differences in format):
4. Be reflective
Your application should be demonstration of reflective practice in action:
- What did you do? (Let’s say you did X and Y.)
- Why did you do X and Y? If this is something that happened before your current role, how have X and Y informed your current practice? (You may not be able to bring this into every section, but it is helpful to keep it in mind.)
- What would you have done differently? What are some things you would like to further develop and why? (Again, not all situations lend itself to this, but it’s useful to ask such critical questions to develop your reflection).
5. Get feedback
Have at least one person read and comment on your early draft (I didn’t do this and ended up writing three different applications). Ideally, this will be your mentor assigned to you on an accredited scheme, but trusted critical friends and colleagues would also be valuable resources.
6. Don’t try to cover everything
For FHEA (generally speaking) you have a 500 word limit for each section. You might find this rather limiting, but just focus on a few things in your teaching. Don’t worry too much about the things you cannot include – you simply don’t have enough space to include everything. Your reflection should provide a glimpse into your teaching practice and your teaching philosophy – it should provide a clear picture of you as a professional in Higher Education.
7. Don’t be too harsh on yourself
I think because of the nature of the written application, you might feel judged or the whole process might feel like writing an elaborated CV for job application.
No application is perfect and there are things I would do differently with my own application. But this is the nature of writing–there is always room for improvement–so don’t be too harsh on yourself (I’m also telling this to myself). You will feel great when you earn your award.
Good luck with your application.