Dr Michael Leach awarded Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy

Dr Michael Leach, a Senior Lecturer at Monash Rural Health, has been named a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). He joins a growing community of Fellows within Monash Rural Health, including Dr Pam Harvey, Dr Eleanor Mitchell and Senior Fellow Dr Tammy Smith.

Michael completed his Fellowship through the Teaching Excellence Program (TEP) pathway, which is a practice-based program that aims to introduce staff to key practices and procedures that support teaching at Monash.

Michael appreciated guidance and feedback from the TEP facilitators throughout the process, along with the support and encouragement of his Monash Rural Health colleagues.

“The program was challenging yet rewarding in that it consolidated and extended my tertiary teaching practice, particularly in relation to theories of learning and technology-enhanced education. When the time came to finalise and submit my fellowship portfolio of assignments completed throughout the program, I found the process relatively straightforward and streamlined thanks to the high quality of the teaching and subsequent guidance.”

There are over 150,000 HEA Fellows across the globe and, at Monash, HEA Fellowships represent an institutional commitment to developing excellent, innovative and relevant learning and teaching. For Michael, the program helped shape him into a more confident, competent, reflective, and reflexive educator.

“A highlight of my TEP experience was using the student response system, Poll Everywhere, for the first time in a virtual workshop after learning about it during the Program. Seeing evidence of so many students—more than had spoken up during my previous workshops—engaging with workshop content through a series of online polls was quite reassuring and helpful to me as an educator. The students who participated in this workshop seemed to find Poll Everywhere as enjoyable and valuable as I did.”

Since becoming a full-time academic at Monash Rural Health in early 2020, Michael has enjoyed co-teaching two postgraduate units, ‘Essentials of Advanced Healthcare Practice’ and ‘Demographic Methods’, and delivering reflective poetry writing workshops for health professions students and staff. He has co-supervised seven Honours students, two PhD students, and one Scholarly Intensive Placement (SIP) student. He has also presented at the Monash Rural Health Education Symposium and was an invited panellist for the ‘Way of Seeing in Healthcare’ session at the Australian & New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators (ANZAHPE) Conference 2020.

In the future, being part of the HEA community will give Michael opportunities to support prospective Fellows of the HEA through mentoring and reviewing applications, in addition to honing his skills and innovation as an educator.

“Being named a Fellow of the HEA means a great deal to me. As an early career educator without any prior teaching qualifications, I am delighted and thankful to now have an internationally recognised higher education qualification and to be part of a community of Fellows.”