UCL News


Q&A with Manuj Sharma - Review of the Arena One Teaching Associate programme

14 July 2016

With the Arena One: Teaching Associate Programme, you can join a cohort of postgraduate teachers to develop your teaching practice and work towards a nationally recognised teaching award; an

manuj-sharma heacademy.ac.uk/recognition-accreditation/hea-fellowships">Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy. Manuj Sharma is a recent alumnus of the Arena One Teaching Associate programme, so we talked to him about what prompted him to take the course and his experiences of it. 

What is your role at the IEHC? I am currently undertaking a PhD examining effectiveness of various drug treatments for type 2 diabetes mellitus using primary care data. I am based in the department of primary care and population health at the Royal Free.

What are your research interests?

My area of interest involves using routinely collected healthcare data to explore drug safety and effectiveness during "real-world" usage. My work at the moment is focused on drug treatments for type 2 diabetes mellitus though I have previously done work in anticoagulation.

You've recently completed the Arena One Teaching Associate programme, what led you to apply?

I have always had an interest in teaching but have never really received any formal training for it. I learned about the Arena One Teaching Programme after attending the Arena One Gateway Session They provided an overview of the Arena One programme, the sessions involved and how it prepares you to apply for an Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy. This is what led me to apply.

What was your experience of the programme? What do you think are the benefits for students?

The course was run very well from start to finish with sessions focusing on different components of teaching from planning and designing, effective methods for teaching through to providing feedback to students.  We had a seminar at the end where we spoke to staff from UCL careers, UCL Digital Education, UCL Student Support and UCL Office of the Vice-Provost learning about wider educational issues, objectives and opportunities at UCL which was really useful.

The sessions themselves help guide reflection on various aspects of your teaching but the Arena Staff are also very good at directing you to various resources where you can read further about novel teaching methods and keep up to date. This is something I have found very useful and am sure others in similar positions to myself with limited teaching experience would as well.

How do you balance your research activity with teaching commitments?

Completing the PhD is of course my main objective but I had always been keen to get some teaching experience as well. This past year I have delivered several large groupwork tutorial sessions from the Use of Evidence Modules on the MBBS programme which I hope to continue as I move into the final year of my PhD.

What advice would you give to others thinking about Postgraduate teaching assistant activity?

I would strongly encourage every PhD student to get experience teaching, ideally in a discipline directly related to their research activities. I find that teaching is the best way to ensure I understand a particular topic, but also very rewarding and that it adds a bit more variety to my regular research work.

What are your plans now with regards teaching following the Arena One Teaching Associate programme?

I have already begun to revise the sessions I plan to teach for the Use of Evidence Modules for the next academic year in light of what I learned during the Arena One Course this year. I hope to take on some additional teaching commitments and keep building up my teaching portfolio going forward!

Find out more and apply for the Arena One: Teaching Associate Programme here