When I got appointed as a Lecturer in 2010 I found that I had to do the PGCAP course as part of requirements for my probation. Initially I did not feel happy about this. I had quite a heavy teaching workload and also the pressure to develop research papers and grant proposals. I certainly felt the PGCAP course was a distraction to the ‘core’ aspects of my work in the university and unfortunately, I had no choice but to do it. Today, my view of the PGCAP course is completely different.
By the time I completed the programme successfully in July 2012, I found that participation in the course had helped me to develop greatly in all aspects of my career and academic aspirations. First, participation in the PGCAP course helped me to learn new ideas about teaching and learning and my role as a lecturer – including personal tutoring, supporting student learning, classroom teaching, assessment and feedback. One word I quickly became familiar with was ‘Pedagogy’. I began to develop a better understanding of the purpose of teaching which is to facilitate learning. I found the workshops extremely useful and by the time I was through a few of them, I felt that the course was right and very beneficial in terms of my own personal development as a lecturer and my understanding of the higher education environment and engagement with students. In short, the whole PGCAP experience was very developmental and I could feel its positive impact on my teaching, research, administrative duties and relationships with people across the university.
Participation in the course helped me to meet other new lecturers across the university so I made friends and this enabled me to share ideas and experiences. The course was clearly time-consuming but certainly worth every bit of the time invested. It is professionally useful to have the PGCAP qualification and Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy. Perhaps the two most useful aspects of the course for me were the project and portfolio. I learned much from my T&L project on feedback provision and use and fortunately the work was of significant benefit to my School. I enjoyed both project and portfolio equally – but I found the process of writing my reflective teaching portfolio very developmental, in that, the process enabled me to give more serious thought to my routine activities as a lecturer, reviewing my personal development over time, and identifying new ways to improve. The portfolio and project have helped me so much to develop in my understanding of pedagogical issues – and generated in me a permanent interest to engage in teaching and learning issues.
Today I am based in the School of Construction Economics and Management at University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. I serve as Director of our undergraduate programme and the ideas and experiences gained on the PGCAP course are serving me extremely well. I fully understand pedagogic issues in a higher education environment and this plays a central role in the development of an effective approach for teaching and supporting student learning. The PGCAP experience has been hugely useful, making a difference, and providing an advantage not only for myself but also for the 400+ students I teach in my new university.