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Recognition for Physics PhD student

13 October 2022

Students working on their laptops

School of Physics and Astronomy student Joseph Askey has been recognised as a full Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) in recognition of his excellence in teaching and learning support. Joe had previously been awarded an Associate Fellowship (AFHEA) in 2020, but this has not stopped him developing as an educator.  Both of Joe’s awards were achieved via direct application.

After completing his MSc Physics in 2018, Joe stayed on at Cardiff University as a PhD student and joined the MSc Teaching Team.  After a year acting in a teaching support role, Joe began to take on additional responsibilities as a research project leader, tutor, and role model for the MSc students. With support and mentorship from the academic staff members of the MSc Teaching Team, Joe has continually reflected upon and enhanced his teaching practice.  Joe tells us:

“Reflecting on now 4 years of higher education teaching has been a thoroughly rewarding challenge. It is incredibly difficult to articulate meaningful reflections on one's own teaching practice, taking me more than 2 years to complete. Despite the difficulties, the experience has helped me learn about my own strengths, and more importantly my weaknesses in teaching.”

Joe’s contributions to master’s level teaching over the past four years have been varied and a key part of the success of the programmes’ core modules.  Dr Richard Lewis, the Director of Learning and Teaching for the School and Joe’s FHEA mentor says:

“Joe has contributed to core MSc teaching and learning at a very high level.  Joe has designed, run, and enhanced a research-grade micro project on magnetic nanowires and multiple extra-curricular masterclasses on research techniques as well as acting as a tutor and role model for the MSc students. In the last year of his PhD studentship, Joe has taken new PhD students under his wing and assisted with mentoring them in their teaching practice. During the past year, I have been working on supporting other PhD students towards their AFHEA applications and I have adapted my approach in large part based on my experience working with Joe, but also with Joe’s direct assistance.”

At the end of the 2020/21 academic year, Joe directly contributed to two Cardiff University Teaching and Learning Conference outputs: a traditional talk (as a co-author) and a poster presentation session (as the corresponding author).  Both centred on MSc teaching and learning at PHYSX.  The poster session was particularly noteworthy. Entitled “The Research Group Teaching Model": PhD Students as Research Group Leaders, Mentors, and Role Models”, Joe and his colleagues put forward a solid, reflective case for how PhD students could successfully act in the eponymous roles.  This was a very high-quality presentation at the University’s flagship teaching and learning event of the year.

True to form, Joe has every intention of developing his teaching practice further and has the following to say to his fellow PhD students:

“I have been able to improve upon my teaching practice, and plan for the future challenges that will come as I continue teaching in higher education. I would highly recommend applying for AFHEA or even FHEA status to anyone who is passionate about teaching within higher education.”

Dr Richard Lewis reflects:

“It has been a pleasure to work together on MSc teaching with Joe over the past four years.  As he now moves on to the next stage of his career beyond Cardiff, I will have quite the task to fill the gap that is left. On behalf of the School of Physics and Astronomy, I extend my warmest congratulations to Joe on a recognition very well-deserved and wish him the very best in his future endeavours.”

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