Assessment Rubrics for HEA Fellowship

Assessment rubrics

Written by Saad Qureshi

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There is vast guidance provided by Advance HE already to support those seeking to apply for fellowship with the HEA to demonstrate your claims, with simple templates for you to begin reflecting on your experiences.

The need for assessment rubrics 

However in my experience colleagues still struggle to understand the criteria and how to apply it. In my opinion this arises because of two key challenges. Primarily, the ‘evaluation grids’ or ‘assessment pro-formas’ only repeat the descriptors in the Professional Standards Framework (PSF), which do not accentuate the underlying aspects needed to write a good HEA fellowship narrative and application. Secondly,  the actual evaluation forms are not often shared by institutions with staff members,  which makes it difficult for staff to understand how their application, narrative and impact will be assessed.

Would we do this to students on a course? Good practice would suggest that we share the assessment criteria with those being assessed, in a manner that allows them to re-imagine the assessment task at hand and in this case, the descriptors for fellowship. It is not a major leap, but a reconstruction of the criteria that unveils the underlying skills and requirements which in my opinion are often not understood.

Therefore, a suite of new rubrics were developed (download from below) as part of a pilot in 2018 with a group of staff from select few institutions in the UK and Australia. The rubrics have been highly beneficial for assessors and those being assessed. It has helped them focus on the writing skills needed for narratives guided by their philosophy, creating a logical flow with the use of educational theory.

In addition, the rubrics were supplemented by ‘comments’ on the draft submissions through the ‘review’ function in Microsoft Word to highlight nuanced areas of improvement. In a few cases, one-to-one mentoring sessions was also offered including through face-to-face and online meetings and webinars.

Through the assessment rubrics and additional support mechanisms , this led to transformative changes in the narratives and submissions made by staff. A separate evaluation is to be carried out to highlight any lessons learned.

Chosen feedback style

A good rubric is only meaningful if the feedback provided is of good quality. Many reading this will already have sound experience in providing positive, constructive feedback that is developmental and clear for the staff member. You may use the excellent guidance for providing feedback used by AdvanceHE for its National Teaching Fellowship scheme, or the many guides produced in the sector for reviewers of submissions to journals and conferences, such as the Association for Learning Technology (ALT).

Without wishing to reiterate the excellent guidance covered in other guides out there in the sector, here are some brief tips:

  • Be clear and concise – try to verbalise the feedback. Staff appreciate very direct but constructive feedback
  • Identify where possible any themes that emerge in the text, which may not have been highlighted in the narrative but you have seen glimpses that could advance the narrative
  • The major aspects of a good application is the writing style (often through storytelling) and the demonstration of impact which can mean the difference between the referral and acceptance of someone to fellowship. This aspect should be encouraged the most as it often the weakest
  • Where possible always highlight which dimensions of the UKSPF you can see evidence for (particularly in draft versions) as this indicates any areas that may have been missed and not realised
  • If you are providing feedback to a group of staff members, be consistent in the type and quality of feedback you provide
  • Highlight the positive points and try where possible to indicate whether overall you feel there are revisions needed or minor alterations – it is a daunting process, where in my experience majority of staff (even senior professionals) do not ‘get it right’ on the first submission/draft and this can be a shock to them. As such, there is a duty to encourage them to preserve on our feedback can be instrumental

To continue the conversation, please get in touch at!

Download Assessment Rubrics:

Note: since the publication of the article the rubrics and evaluation forms have been separated for clarity and to respect the HEA’s UKPSF terms and usage policy.

Any feedback to improve the assessment rubrics would be most welcome. Please contact at the above email address!

ThirdSpace HE Rubric Only HEA Associate Fellowship
ThirdSpace HE Rubric Only HEA Fellowship
ThirdSpace HE Rubric Only HEA Senior Fellowship
ThirdSpace HE Rubric Only HEA Principal Fellowship Level

Download Descriptor Evaluation Forms:

ThirdSpace HE Evaluation Form HEA Associate Fellowship
ThirdSpace HE Evaluation Form HEA Fellowship
ThirdSpace HE Evaluation Form HEA Senior Fellowship
ThirdSpace HE Evaluation Form HEA Principal Fellowship Level

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