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Gaining Fellowship improved my teaching: Parama Chaudhury

Parama Chaudhury, Principal Teaching Fellow in Economics CTaLE, who has gained three levels of Fellowship with UCL Arena, shares the impact it has had on her teaching.

28 August 2019

Which Arena pathway did you follow?

Arena Open from Fellow in 2016, to Senior Fellow (SFHEA) and Principal Fellow (PFHEA) in 2018.  

What is UCL Arena Open?

UCL Arena Open gives experienced staff the opportunity to gain both a UCL Arena Fellowship and the corresponding HEA Fellowship in one of four categories:

  • Associate Fellowship
  • Fellowship
  • Senior Fellowship
  • Principal Fellowship

These awards are made on the basis of your successful experience of teaching, supporting students’ learning or leading an aspect of education at UCL.

What was your motivation?

I wanted to take stock of what I had already done and learned from and figure out from there what I should be trying to do next.

What was the most useful element?

In writing the case studies and the overall statement (for PFHEA), you are forced to look at your experience and efforts from a holistic point of view.

This helped me to see the links between what I had done already as well as the gaps, and thereby understand where I should focus my attention in the coming years.

I also found the interaction with the Arena staff and fellow applicants at the “developing your application” sessions really useful in learning about what others were doing. 

How has it changed your teaching?

The process of applying for fellowship has helped me to understand anew how hard it is to innovate in higher education both for logistic and pedagogic reasons. This realisation has helped me to develop a more organised and carefully planned approach to teaching, and also shaped my work in UCL Centre for Teaching and Learning Economics in supporting others who are looking to introduce new techniques and technologies in their own classes.

How do you think your students have benefited?

I think the reflection embedded in the application process has helped me to think more carefully about why I do the things I do in each of my classes.

I now make it a point to explain to students the motivation behind each of the pieces of instructional design, and I think it also helps them to reflect on their own learning experience.

How much of a commitment was it for you?

FHEA took quite a bit of time as I struggled to understand what the assessors were looking for. This kind of reflective exercise was very new to me.
UCL Arena staff provided much-needed support, and once I had got my head around the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF)and the descriptors by looking at lots of examples and speaking with other applicants, SFHEA and PFHEA were much easier to write.

Parama's top tips for applying for Fellowship

  1. Plan your time effectively and use the resources available to you: it is more time consuming than I thought! 
  2. Find a mentor, either in your department or from UCL Arena Centre 
  3. Attend UCL Arena sessions: initial guidance and developing your application