HEPPP Featured Researcher – Helen King

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I’m currently the Deputy Director of UWE Bristol’s Academic Practice Directorate (APD) and convenor of the HEPPP research network. I’ve been been working in educational development since I completed my geoscience PhD in 1996. I fell into my career through an opportunity to manage a UK-wide project to enable and support staff development in the Earth Sciences. Following this I became Assistant Director of the Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences (GEES)(2000 – 2007). Moving to the USA for three years in 2007, I was able to take advantage of my international contacts and connect and collaborate with geoscience education colleagues in the UK, USA and Australia. On my return to the UK, I spent several months as a Senior Adviser with the Higher Education Academy (HEA) before taking up the position of Head of Academic Staff Development at the University of Bath. In 2016 I had the opportunity to explore a different angle of higher education, through a Senior Policy Adviser role at the Higher Education Funding Council for England and, in 2018, was delighted to join UWE Bristol and the newly formed APD.

My areas of work with UWE Bristol are wide-ranging and varied. I am a module leader on the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Professional Practice as well as teaching on two other modules in the programme and running workshops on learning design and our HEA Fellowship Scheme. I work with teams across the University to support the design and review of academic programmes through our Enhancement Framework. Amongst my other activities I am the Faculty Partner for Arts, Creative Industries & Education (ACE), review HEA Fellowship applications, and work with colleagues in the APD to deliver our Pedagogic Projects funding. And, of course, in my role as Deputy Director I spend a lot of time attending and contributing to committees and other meetings! I’m fortunate to be able to maintain external connections through the University Alliance Teaching & Learning Network, the Heads of Educational Development Group and in my new role as Vice-Chair of the Staff & Educational Development Association (SEDA). I am also external examiner at the University of Limerick, and have recently been appointed Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Queensland.

My research interests have previously been fairly broad and I’ve presented and published widely. Recently, however, I have particularly focused on my long-term passion of supporting professional development for teaching in higher education, and this has led me to explore the characteristics of expertise in teaching in HE. After conducting some small-scale research with National Teaching Fellowship holders I developed a model which connects the generic characteristics of expertise to the practice of teaching in HE. To explore this further I convened what was going to be a small, one-day, on-campus symposium and turned out to be a fantastically interesting and energising week-long live and asynchronous on-line event with over 500 registrants from the UK and across the globe! I am now working with the contributors to publish a book from the symposium, and am also writing a publication on ‘Improving your Teaching: professional development for busy academics’. Linking to my interest in professional development, I instigated and now lead the HEPPP research network to connect colleagues across the University and beyond, and I am second supervisor for an EdD candidate at UWE and informal / third supervisor for a colleague undertaking an education doctorate at the University of Exeter. And, of course, I practice what I preach and ensure I consider my own professional development, for which I’m proud to have been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship (2006), Senior Fellowship of SEDA (2006), and Principal Fellow of the HEA (2017).

Outside of work I’m a keen (but slow) trail runner, nascent Bluegrass banjo player, and leader at Steeple Ashton Girl Guides.

Connect with me via Twitter (@drhelenking #expertiseLTHE, #HEPPP_UWE), LinkedIn or my website.

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