Technician’s Story: Becoming a Fellow of Advance HE (FHEA)

By 27th February 2020 March 27th, 2020 Blog

The NTDC’s Centre Manager, Sara Bacon, interviews James Davoll about his journey towards becoming a Fellow of Advance HE (FHEA).

Can you tell us a little about your background?

I have a background in teaching, in both further education and higher education, and already had a PGCE before joining Newcastle University. Throughout my twenties my career path wandered from Freelance Photographer and Videographer, to River Surfing Instructor, to Workshop Specialist at Apple. I always ended up returning to education – I suppose due to its continual stimulus and challenge.

Why did you decide to apply as a Fellow at Advance HE?

I applied hoping that my teaching contributions to my role at Newcastle University would gain further recognition. I also think that reflecting on one’s practise is essential, and this offered not only a good opportunity to be reflective, but also discursive. This was a great opportunity to think about what I had been doing and why – what my observations and intentions were in my role.


What did you think about the application process?

There is some language used in the application process that may not support ‘traditional’ formal teaching and therefore may be unfamiliar to technicians, which could dissuade them from applying. This is something I have come across with two of my team members, and I have worked through this with them to show how they can evidence their teaching. By asking the students questions, they are in fact challenging the students to reflect on, say, their equipment choice, and at the same time are checking that the students understand the technology they are using.

What did you gain from becoming a Fellow?

My PGCE was completed over 10 years ago, and teaching has evolved in that time. It validated that what I was doing as a technician was teaching, and teaching with a pedagogical agenda. 

What advice would you give to technical colleagues that are considering applying?

It is no extra work. You do not have to change what you’re doing; rather, recognise and translate your activity to fit the framework. 

What feedback would you give to Advance HE?

I am currently working on sessions/workshops and documents to help technicians identify their teaching activities that fall within the framework – as I mentioned above, this isn’t always easy.