Associate Fellow (AFHEA)

What an AFHEA application looks like

Checklist for AFHEA. Overview of my teaching/learner support experience. Philosophy of teaching and learning. Reflective narratives for 2 Areas of Activity (A?; A?): including K1, K2, V1, V2, V3 and V4. Literature reference list. 2 referee reports (one of the referees must be a HEA Fellow).

Below is what an Application form will look like, along with some examples from previous applicants. You can download this form along with other relevant documents from here.

In the examples given, notice how there is a mixture of description and reflection, how the applicant reflects on experiences in the relative context of his or her position, and how the Professional Standards Framework (PSF) elements are cross-referenced where appropriate.

Please do not copy or mimic these words or styles. Your reflective writing, and the benefits to you of reflective practice, will be much more powerful if you adopt your own style.

Associate Fellow (AFHEA) Application
Section 1. Application cover sheet
Complete the cover sheet, sign it and scan it to attach to the start of your application. By signing, you are declaring that:

  • the information you have provided is true and correct, maintains academic integrity and does not breach anyone else’s rights to privacy or confidentiality; and
  • if you are successful in your application, you will commit to upholding the HEA Code of Practice, and remain in good standing with HEA and the EFS by continuing your professional development to enhance your teaching skills, knowledge and practice (e.g. by attending EFS events and workshops).
Section 2. Overview of my learning experience in teaching/learning (400 words max)
In this paragraph, you should concisely explain the context of your teaching, and the breadth and depth of your teaching roles and experiences.


I have always been interested in teaching, inspired by great teachers at school and university, and did some peer mentoring when I was an undergraduate. So when I became a PhD student, I was keen to become a tutor in [my discipline]. I have been teaching second year students from ANU for one year, across two courses. My main teaching role is in small-group teaching about specific knowledge/skills that complement the course lectures. I also have to mark the main assignment. I participated in the Principles of Tutoring and Demonstrating course last year, and have been attending the Tutor Cafe since then. These developmental opportunities have helped me to think more deeply about how I help students.
Section 3. My philosophy of teaching and learning (400 words max)
In this paragraph, you should concisely explain what motivates and drives you as a teacher. You might find it appropriate to refer to some of the Professional Values here.


Key motivators driving me as a tutor are my own memories of teachers who made a difference, and my concern for the pressures that today’s students have to work under. I had a wonderful high school teacher who always gave me feedback in a great way, even when I was not really producing to my capacity. I also had a really tough lecturer when I was a first year student, who wouldn’t let us slack off as learners, but always reminded us of why we were studying.

In my approach as a tutor today I have both those teachers in mind, and that makes me work hard to treat each student as an individual (V1) wanting to become a professional in my field rather than as a ‘knowledge machine’. I am also conscious that most students pay very high fees to study at university (V4), so I try to make sure that at least my students receive ‘value-for-money’, and are really treated like individuals with different needs and strengths (V1). My tutoring is also driven by my constant desire to learn more about what I am researching, because teaching helps me do that.

Section 4.1 Reflective narrative on first Area of Activity (800 words max)
This is the main feature of your application. Reflect on one Area of Activity here (from A1 to A5)

Describe and reflect upon your recent (past three years) engagement and experience of teaching and support of learners, including reference to (at least) your Core Knowledge K1 and K2 and your commitment to Professional Values V1 to V4. At appropriate points, describe the professional development activities in which you have participated, and how you have incorporated that new knowledge into your activities.

This is a reflective narrative, so please make sure you not only describe what you have done in teaching and/or supporting learners, but also reflect on why you did it that way, what you learned from your experience, and how that has affected what you do now (or plan to do in the future).

Annotate your narrative with the relevant Knowledge (Ks) and Values (Vs), but make these substantive, not tokenistic. Also keep looking back to Descriptor 1 to make sure you are providing all the evidence needed to meet this set of criteria.


A1 Designing learning activities - applicant is an educational designer

I have a role in the College of X as an online educational designer, which means I help teaching academics to create online or blended courses that make really good use of technologies such as Wattle (Moodle) and multimedia (K4). My knowledge about working in online environments comes from several years of hands-on use of Moodle, opportunities to work with some Moodle experts at ANU, and attending Moodleposia and the ascilite conference for the past three years. This year I have also started a Graduate Certificate in Educational Technology through the University of Y (K1, A5, V3). I found that the conferences especially really helped me understand more about relevant learning theory, and how online learning needs to be designed. I am particularly keen on Laurillard’s Conversational Framework (Laurillard 2000) as a model for designing online learning, and I have been using that as a way of discussing new courses with academic staff for some time now (K2). I like this framework as a design tool because it focuses the design on the interactions between student and teacher, but it takes into account the changes that occur in those interactions at different times in the course.
A2 Teaching and/or supporting learning - applicant is a tutor
I’m a PhD student working in the same field that I teach [named discipline]. This means that, for the most part, I am confident in my knowledge of the subject I am teaching, and am usually quite up to date with new research (K1). My main teaching role is as a tutor, and I have been teaching two tutorial groups (about 20 students) a week each semester for the past couple of years. When I teach, my main aim is to help the students focus on concepts from their readings rather than detailed information recall. I do this through a repeated questioning technique that I learned about in the PTD modules I attended at CHELT last year (A5K2). I have found this approach very useful because it encourages the students to think critically about what they read or hear about, not just regurgitate the same old information. However, it did take me some weeks to feel comfortable with answering a question with a question, and not worrying that the students would think I didn’t know the answer to the question they had asked!I believe that students in my discipline can be particularly challenging to teach, as many appear to be aiming for HDs and a high GPA, which can lead to increased anxiety as they work through the activities in the practical sessions. I have experienced a few situations with anxious students, and seen how much their learning can be negatively affected. I was really glad that this was addressed by in the online PTD module on ‘Supporting our Students’, so that I could learn what is known about this (V3). I was also able to talk to other tutors at the Tutor Café which I have attended a few times this year. It seems many of us are dealing with worried students. Based on the ideas I discussed with other tutors, I now focus on making the students feel comfortable and safe as learners, rather than worry about whether I am passing on lots of facts about the subject. I have found that even simple questions about themselves as people, asked in a friendly way (where are they from?; what is their professional and or educational background? what are their interests and future goals?) can break the ice at the beginning of semester. This is also helped if I share some of my background, for example, that I also find deadlines an issue sometimes. This helps us to see one another in a broader context – not just as student and teacher (V1). I also use humour quite extensively to create a more relaxed and open environment, although I am not a very good joke teller.
A3 Assessment and feedback - applicant is a demonstrator
I think students must feel respected, emotionally safe, and comfortable to admit gaps in their knowledge and skills, regardless of their background (V1). This means they must be sure that they are safe to admit when they don’t know something, or if they get something wrong, so I try to be very fair and careful in assessment and feedback all times, especially in the face to face and group settings in the lab sessions where I work as a demonstrator. Thinking about student support and guidance in the context of feedback, I have tried the ‘feedback sandwich’ model of ‘tell them something good they do, then their weakness, then another strength’, which I learned about from talking to the course lecturer, but usually most students seem to focus on the negative feedback anyway. But after doing the PTD modules, and hearing about some of the research on assessment (V1), I have more confidence in following through with my own intuition: in a safe learning environment, I find students can listen carefully and start to develop better skills, as long as they feel I am being fair with my feedback.
A4 Develop effective learning environments and approaches to student support and guidance - applicant is a tutor
I spend several hours each week teaching students in small groups (20-25 students). I strongly believe that a safe and supportive environment lays the foundations for effective learning (V1). Through attendance at a professional development module on “how students learn” (F4, November 2015), I realised that my idea of ‘effective learning’ has been described in the educational literature as a ‘deep approach to learning’ (K2), and that what I am seeking are students more able to present material that is closer to the extended abstract level of the SOLO taxonomy (Biggs, 1999). This means I work hard to create a nurturing learning environment in my tutorials and spend time thinking about this in my planning. I make sure I never sit behind my desk if we are meeting in my office but sit next to them, so they feel like we are equals. I don’t always have such control over the physical environments in which we meet as a group, but, if possible, I certainly try to ensure a comfortable temperature, appropriate seating and lighting, and an arrangement of seating that suggests (and supports) collaborative learning rather than a ‘me and them as individuals’ pattern. The tutorial rooms are usually drab and fairly ugly, so I bring along a set of posters (relevant to the topic) each time which I stick up with blu-tak. It takes a few minutes but is worth it. Students have remarked that this bit of colour brightens up their day and makes them more cheerful in my tutorials than in others that they attend. The psychological environment is even more crucial. If appropriate, I try to ensure that the students know I think of them as real people, all individuals with their own needs (V1). I also make sure I am up to date in what ANU expects us to do to help students with problems—I did the online Foundations module F9 ‘Supporting our Students” and that really gave me all the information I needed (V3V4).
A5 Engage in continuing professional development (in teaching) - applicant is a tutor
Last year I completed the online ANU Foundations of University Teaching and Learning module F1 (‘Teaching at ANU: Policies and Context’) which helped me understand the national regulatory context in which ANU operates, which I had no idea about before! I also now understand the ANU policies that impact on me as an tutor. I hope this will help me sound more professional when I go for academic jobs when I have finished my PhD. When I participated in the PTD and Foundations modules at CHELT, I found I learnt ideas that I was able to put in place immediately. For example, I’d never heard about constructive alignment before, but it really made sense to me as a way of thinking about teaching, and I am now reading John Biggs’ book to try to understand more. I have so many students from different language groups and cultures in my tutorials that I have to work hard to be inclusive in my teaching (V1). I don’t always find this easy, I admit, so I have taken every opportunity to read about cross-cultural competence and to talk to my students about times when my teaching style of asking lots of questions may make them uncomfortable or unsure what to do. My course convenor told me that helping international students achieve their best is an issue for all Australian universities. I found some reports on this on the Office for Learning & Teaching site (V4). I always try to write down one actual practice I could incorporate into my teaching whenever I read educational research (V3).
Section 4.2 Reflective narrative on second Area of Activity (800 words max)
Same as above (Section 4.1). Reflect on your other Area of Activity here (from A1 to A5). See above for examples.
Section 5. Literature reference list
Include a reference list of all literature cited in your application in the reference style of your choice.
Section 6. Referees
Your application must be submitted with statements from two referees who can authenticate your practice. You can also provide evidence in your reflective narrative that your practice has been authenticated by others, for example, through peer observation or review. You can download a Referee Report template to send them.

Referees are required to attest to the effective elements of your practice, through their personal experience. Your referees should therefore be able to provide informed corroboration of your teaching experience and capabilities in the context of the PSF and your application.

At least one Referee Report must come from an existing HEA fellow in your College (AFHEA, FHEA, SFHEA or PFHEA), who can comment on the evidence you have provided, your teaching and/or supporting learning activities, and the relevance to Descriptor 1. This is the part of the intra- College and cross-University mentoring within the EFS. If this poses a problem for you, please seek advice from your EFS mentor).

Please include both completed Referee Reports at the end of your application in one PDF document.

What’s next?

Go to Application forms to download all the required documents. Once you have completed a draft, send it to for feedback from an EFS mentor. When you’re satisfied with your final application, you are ready to submit.