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PhD Students recognised for excellence in teaching and learning support

13 May 2021

Photos of Joseph and Rhiannon
Joseph Askey and Rhiannon Ryder

Cardiff University School of Physics and Astronomy celebrates its first PhD students to achieve the status of ‘Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy’ (AFHEA). Joseph Askey and Rhiannon Ryder received the accolade in recognition of their excellence in teaching and learning support.

Here at the School of Physics and Astronomy, PhD students are highly valued members of the undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and learning teams.

As well as acting as markers and demonstrators, they also fulfil a vital role as group leaders for project-based learning, as mentors, and as role models.

As part of our commitment to our PhD students, we provide structured support for their development into teaching and learning practitioners and assist those aspiring to Associate Fellow status.

To be recognised as an Associate Fellow, an individual must be able to demonstrate understanding and effectiveness in teaching and learning practice and support, and Associate Fellowship is only awarded after a rigorous external evaluation of an individual's written Account of Professional Practice.

Head of School, Professor Peter Smowton, congratulates Joseph and Rhiannon on their AFHEA success,

“these Associate Fellowships are a fantastic recognition of the vital role that our postgraduate students play as part of our teaching team, and the professional development that Rhiannon and Joseph have clearly benefited from as part of their work. We hope more postgraduate students will continue to receive such recognition in the future”.

Joseph Askey AFHEA

Joseph successfully applied for AFHEA status in 2019.

An MSc Physics student during the 2017/18 Academic Year, he remained as a PhD student.

Joseph has been a key member of the Postgraduate Teaching and Learning Team since 2018/19, acted as a micro project group leader, designed, and delivered master's-level support sessions for essential skills such as Python coding, LaTeX, and GitHub, and has been directly involved in module and programme planning together with the MSc Programme Coordinators.

Director of Postgraduate Studies, Dr Richard Lewis observes,

“Joseph has a phenomenal attention to detail, is prepared far beyond the usual level of a PhD demonstrator, and has consistently demonstrated a natural talent for engaging students in active learning.  MSc students have mentioned to me several times that they consider Joseph to be their role model”.

Joseph told us,

“reflecting on 2 years teaching practice was challenging, especially since I had only recently finished my MSc studies. However, the process I underwent has consolidated my own knowledge in teaching, improved my confidence in my ability to teach, and provided me a platform to recognise and continue my professional development towards becoming an educational practitioner. I would wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who is interested in teaching in Higher Education”.

Rhiannon Ryder AFHEA

Rhiannon started research in physics education in 2018, as part of her Year 3 Physics Project.

She investigated 3D visualisations to support student learning and designed and delivered teaching interventions based on active learning, achieving a first-class degree.

In 2019, Rhiannon became a teaching assistant in two innovative active learning modules, Optics and Pathways to Success in the Physics Workplace. She gained experience of collaborative learning, whilst supporting students with self-confidence and self-directing learning. This work awarded her an AFHEA in March 2021.

Dr Andrea Jiménez Dalmaroni, Physics Education Research Group Deputy Head, commented,

“Rhiannon has shown a deep commitment to support student learning in all aspects. She easily translates the understanding of how students learn to her teaching, adjusting and scaffolding student support with great skill. Rhiannon is an outstanding teaching assistant and a very caring reflective practitioner”.

Rhiannon, currently a PhD student working in decarbonised fuel energy systems, expressed,

“I am delighted to have been awarded an AFHEA.

Being a demonstrator helped me to recognise the importance of reflecting in a variety of education scenarios and apply this to both my personal and professional development.

I am grateful for the unique, active learning demonstrating experience I gained.

This experience has undoubtedly strengthened my AFHEA application and will be invaluable in my future career. I can’t imagine myself being a demonstrator in a class without collaborative learning and dynamic discussions!".

Our congratulations again to both Joseph and Rhiannon!

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