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"It felt like the first official step towards my academic teaching career"

18 Jan 2022 | Advance HE In the third blog this January celebrating our Associate Fellow community, Chloe Li, a PhD student and Associate Fellow at University College London, explains how important the recognition has been at the beginning of her teaching career.

Do you remember where you were when you found out you had achieved Associate Fellow recognition?

Yes, I remember the moment very clearly! I was at home when I opened the email on a Friday afternoon. I wasn’t expecting to hear back so soon! After reading the congratulations message, I showed my parents who were ecstatic as well.

What did receiving the award mean to you personally?

This award was very important to me because it felt like the first official step towards my academic teaching career. Being awarded Associate Fellow recognition during my first attempt made it even more special to me as I honestly wasn’t expecting to be successful during my first year of PhD studies. I know I still have a long way to go to reach my goal of being a professor but it’s a step closer in the right direction.

Who inspired you to apply for Associate Fellowship?

My primary supervisor Professor Andrew Cook inspired me to apply for the Associate Fellowship. He has always received great praise from iBSc and MSc students on his Congenital Heart Disease – Fundamentals module. I used to attend his module when I was a MSc student in 2017-2018 and have always enjoyed each lecture and anatomy session run by him and Vi Tran. Since the beginning of the 2021-2022 academic year, I have been helping teach on his module as an official PGTA and Module Tutor and it’s really nice to see how much work and effort is put into the planning of the sessions and be part of this to support students’ learning.

How did the reflective process affect you and your teaching practice?

The reflective process was a huge lesson for me as it made me really think hard about what I have learnt as a PGTA and Module Tutor so far and what went well and could be improved. Overall, this was a great learning experience and I encourage others to go through this reflective process whatever career stage you are at.

What impact has the award had on you and how do you hope it will impact you in the future?

This award has motivated me even more to continue improving supporting teaching and learning. The feedback that I received on my Associate Fellowship application was really helpful and I will do my best to try work on the areas that needs improving in order to be my best version as a PGTA, Module Tutor and new supervisor.

What are you most proud of in your academic career?

Obtaining the UCL 4-year BHF Cardiovascular Biomedicine PhD studentship is one of my proudest moments. It was my dream PhD programme and it’s such a competitive studentship with very limited places per year at UCL. I feel very lucky to have been selected for this prestigious studentship and I hope to continue to make the most out of the remaining 2 years of this PhD as well as working towards the next level fellowship.

How has the shift to blended or online teaching impacted your practice?

COVID-19 has really tested our ability to adapt quickly during our teaching which was made easier by having access to advanced technology – from high-quality cameras to virtual reality headsets. It became even more important to think of creative approaches to try engaging students so that we remain connected and not distant.

Away from academia, what do you do to relax/have fun?

I am a keen, single-figure handicap golfer and like to spend my free time golfing. I also enjoy playing piano (Chopin and Beethoven in particular) and spending time with family and friends.

New To Teaching - next cohort begins 16 February 2022

This programme focuses on the basics of effective teaching practice, incorporating the latest innovations within fully virtual or hybrid teaching spaces for those new to higher education teaching. Find out more and book your place here.

Fellowship Application Builder

This six-week online, self-directed course is designed to enable you to use your experience of teaching and supporting learning in higher education to develop your Fellowship application. Find out more.


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