UQ’s Fine Fellows

The Higher Education Academy (HEA) Fellowship scheme is a professional recognition scheme for university educators. It provides an international benchmark for teaching quality.

Following a successful pilot in 2016 and further development across the last year by The Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation (ITaLI) alongside school and faculty partners, the UQ HEA Fellowship scheme is now institutionally accredited by Advance HE (UK).

This enables ITaLI to manage and administer internal HEA Fellowship applications for the benefit of all staff (both academic and professional) working in Teaching and Learning at UQ.

At UQ, the HEA scheme is one way the university is building and acknowledging a community of great teachers creating change. Read about one of our newest HEA Fellows below.

Dr Rhonda Faragher (SFHEA) from the School of Education aspired to higher education study thanks to the support of her parents who were very proud of her love of learning. Rhonda originally graduated with a Science degree and then went on to gain teacher qualifications from UQ. As an avid music lover she enjoys jazz and choral music. One of her favourite and most accomplished passions (apart from teaching) is singing alto in her church choir.

Teaching journey

I have always enjoyed helping learners love mathematics as much as I do. I also relish the opportunity to work with students to induct them into the teaching profession – a profession that provides the rare chance to make a difference in the lives of others.

My interest in helping learners achieve success with mathematics took a particular direction following the birth of my daughter with Down Syndrome in 1996. Initially, I thought I might uncover some special technique for unlocking learning. Instead, over time, I came to realise that there are no special tricks – it is by utilising good mathematics teaching that remarkable results are achieved. This work has had ramifications all around the world. As a result, I have had adjunct teaching appointments in Singapore, Canada and India.

HEA experience

The HEA application process was so well supported. It was fantastic to have mentors who could quickly identify what I needed to do. Finding the time was a challenge but the discipline of having a deadline made it manageable.

In the midst of so many tasks, applying for the Senior Fellowship encouraged me to take the time to seriously reflect on my work in teaching in higher education. It allowed me to consider successes and areas where I could make changes. I think those opportunities are rare and I’m glad they came my way.

In our work (teaching), I think there are always reasons to feel ‘not good enough.’ Every so often, it is important to be able to be acknowledged for the contribution that has been made. A Senior Fellowship doesn’t mean that I am the best teacher in the school – and I’m not – but it does mean that I care deeply about my teaching and my impact on my students.

It is my hope that others will see that I regard university teaching to be a highly important task. In the past, teaching might have been thought of as an area of work that had to be done as efficiently as possible, to avoid getting in the way of other tasks. Through the Fellowship, the value of teaching and its intensely interesting activity in developing the capacity of others in the profession, is honoured.

Memorable teaching moment

In 2017, I had a brilliant honours student. I encouraged her submission of an abstract to an international conference. There we found out a special issue was being published in her field. We co-authored a paper that was well reviewed and is now in print. It is so exciting to nurture the enthusiasm of new scholars. Also in 2017, I had a student who was deaf. Learning ways to adjust my teaching to support his learning needs was really interesting. I learnt how easy it is to automatically caption videos and now I do this routinely.

Career goal

I aspire to be the leading authority in the world on the mathematics learning of students with Down Syndrome. UQ is the perfect place to be for that.