How to Write a Reflective Statement – HEA

How to Write a Reflective Statement – HEA

I’ve provided some guidance on how you can begin writing your reflective statement (or case study) for your HEA application at Fellow level or above. You have to reflect on your experience and work against the UK Professional Standards Framework, which consists of three areas: Activities, Core Knowledge and Professional Values. I’ve provided sample reflective statements below.

The style of writing doesn’t vary between levels in my opinion as at all levels the approach should be scholarly and reflective, clearly demonstrating impact on students and one’s own approach to teaching or ‘supporting learning’. This is important as many in the sector still think that the HEA fellowship is only for academics and those teaching – it is not, and is also for those ‘supporting learning’. However you would need to demonstrate an approach to scholarship – see below on what is meant by this.

The only major difference would be in the actual requirements of the application itself and the type of experiences that one would be quoting. So for Senior Fellowship level the application form for HEA requires a Reflective Account of Practice (RAP) which asks you to reflect your on personal philosophy on teaching or supporting learning and two case studies which you can create yourself based on areas you really want to showcase. But in both the RAP and the case studies, and indeed for any fellowship level, you have to be scholarly and reflective in your written account.

However please note that for internally accredited schemes at your institution they have the freedom to slightly adapt the formatting of the form. With respect to the experiences and examples you’re calling upon, at senior fellowship and particularly principal fellowship the examples would be more strategic in nature.

So what is meant by scholarly work or scholarship?

This means that you are engaged in understanding the latest developments around teaching and learning approaches. You can gain this understanding through CPD events, reading literature (books, articles), etc. You need to demonstrate your understanding of literature in the field of learning and teaching. For academics not involved in pedagogic research, and professional services staff who generally don’t engage in such work, this may be daunting or unfamiliar. Never fear you can take some simple steps.

First identify your approach to teaching or supporting learning. Many concepts are applicable to both academics and professional services staff. For instance, using technology in teaching, or being student centred, are forms of teaching pedagogy. As a professional services staff haven’t you worked to introduce new technologies to ‘support students learning’? A popular platform being! The only difference is that the academic will be using this in the classroom and you have actually made the platform available, produced guides, delivered training.

Write down how you like to teach if you are an academic, or what you feel your approach is to supporting student learning if you are a professional services staff.

There are common methods of teaching – case based, problem based, inquiry based etc. If you don’t fit into any areas that’s fine as pedagogical approaches are numerous. You can try to unpick a particular teaching philosophy or method of teaching /supporting called your pedagogical approach – for example technology enhanced learning as discussed above. Then research literature (e.g. articles, reports, etc) that cover these subjects. For example, Peter Goodyear is a popular author on technology enhanced learning but you can quote any research that you come across. Use the literature to inform your reflective statement and understanding. There are a number of resources available in HEA’s own Knowledge Hub that you can read.

I provide fictitious examples of Martin Ward a School Manager in professional services, and Fatima Khan a Senior Lecturer.

Compared to Fatima, given that Martin is in professional services, as mentioned the pedagogical approach could be the same but the examples used may be slightly different and less classroom oriented. You can also use up to five years experience and not just from your current institution.


I review a number of applications at the institutions where I’m an external peer or consultant. I also deliver writing workshops to help colleagues bring out their colourful experiences and to develop their written narrative. There is no single or right approach. As a Principal Fellow myself I know all to well the challenge in developing a reflective statement. But I would recommend following the three point approach as follows:

3 part Structure:

Opening philosophical statement – your beliefs e.g. tackling gender stereotypes. Be emotive and passionate.

Example(s) – e.g. role plays, case studies on women

Impact on students – new skills, traits, behaviours or knowledge gained. Think of how your examples of work have helped students develop: confidence, critical thinking, teamwork, communication, digital skills, entrepreneurship, etc

If you would like more guidance and advice please feel free to get in touch through the Contact Page!


These are for illustrative purposes only!

Martin Ward (School Manager)

My approach has always been to develop students entrepreneurship skills. I worked for the Employability Team previously and saw first hand the importance of employability. Entrepreneurship, particularly to tackle social issues, is an important skill for graduates (Cade, 2008). Working with the heads of department and programme directors I supported the development of an Industry Placement module and extra curricular activities through guest speakers from a variety of backgrounds to represent the different cultures of our students many of whom are international. I provided guidelines for assessment which I benchmarked to sector practice. I also ensured that a number of TED talks and videos on business planning were embedded into our VLE. As a result, students developed confidence to even think about following their passion and establishing their own business. They developed business skills through the business simulation challenges they worked on which,  similar to games based learning,  is a powerful learning methodology (Houtari and Jamari, 2012). They enhanced their team working skills as a result of working in groups in role plays where students gain more from taking on roles of others as they become more immersed.

Fatima Khan (Senior Lecturer)

I have been lecturing for a number of years on management subjects to biomedical engineering students where prior to this I was teaching in Malaysia. My style is case based teaching as this provides students with a reflective opportunity to learn about real world challenges (Christensen, 1987). I ensure that the case studies are relevant to students cultural backgrounds and their discipline (Ladson-Billings, 1994). Management is an interesting subject because it is infused in many disciplines from engineering to health and sports. It provides students with different skills and perspectives. I act on student feedback where they had stated that they enjoyed the business focus of my lectures however they wanted the case studies to be specifically about health or engineering. As a result for my project management lecture, rather than basing it on British Airways, the case study was now on how clinical trials can be better managed through project management skills and methodology. This was highly successful as students were more motivated. They developed a critical understanding of the role of a project manager, the importance of planning, and the key stages of a project. I have learnt a great deal on how to ensure my lecture material is relevant to students which leads to greater engagement (Driscoll, 2005).


You will see in both samples Martin and Fatima have written a scholarly piece of work shown through the use of references where they have stated their philosophy which has been backed up. They have both shown impact on students through increased engagement and enhanced skills such as entrepreneurship and confidence. Their approach and style, and individual identity is clear. For Martin he is clearly influenced by his views and experience around the employability agenda. For Fatima it is about  ‘interdisciplinary learning’ by infusing management in other disciplines.

So the big question is, what defines you…?