PhD Life: Teaching Undergraduates and the Supporting Learning Programme teaching qualification

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One of the aspects of my PhD that I particularly enjoy is having the opportunity to teach undergraduates. Most PhD students have the chance to teach although it is dependent on your department and supervisors. Some people have to undertake some teaching and/or marking activities as part of their studentship. I have an ESRC studentship so I don’t actually have to teach. However, I have always wanted to gain teaching experience. Prior to teaching you have to attend a 1 day ‘Introduction to Teaching’ workshop run by the University. There is then the opportunity to continue with the training and complete the Supporting Learning Programme (SLP).

As you teach modules within your department, you tend to know the theory. I am fortunate that I teach on Supply Chain and Operations Management modules which compliment my research and vice versa. I find that there are numerous benefits of teaching. Firstly it is very rewarding to educate others- even after an hour you can see the difference! Plus it is really good for improving your own understanding of the theory! I also find that it improves your interpersonal skills and ability to think on your feet. This could be for example when students ask you questions or you may need to adapt the session to improve engagement- it is amazing how some coloured pens and flipchart paper can help to get everyone involved! I have seven years work experience, most recently as a Senior Merchandise Manager at global sourcing company Li & Fung, based in Istanbul so I find this influences my teaching style. I often give examples from my industry experience and I find that the students respond well to this as it makes the theory come to life.

I actually enjoy presenting but it is normal to find it daunting standing in front of a class of students. I think teaching is actually good preparation for presenting at academic conferences both in terms of speaking in front of an audience and answering questions. The students are usually given a case study with questions for the seminar so that we are able to build on the key principles that are introduced during the lectures and develop their analytical skills. I teach first year students through to fourth year. My class sizes vary from around 15 to 30-if there are over 15 students then there are two tutors. Normally one of you takes the lead and you then both help the students if they’re working on an activity. This is an interesting dynamic and you can learn from each other.

I completed the SLP programme in my second year which I think was perfect timing. I had already taught for one year which meant I was up to speed with the course content and could spend more time focussing and analysing the delivery. The SLP programme involves attending workshops, peer observations, reading, student feedback and writing a portfolio of teaching tasks and activities. It really is a learning process and enhances your teaching ability. It is also means that you meet other PhD students from across the University. Once successfully completed you are awarded the status of “Associate fellow” of The Higher Education Academy (HEA). Many institutions find teaching experience advantageous and are making accredited status a requirement when recruiting for lecturing posts.

Overall, I have found teaching a positive experience. It is also a nice change during my working week and this helps me focus more on my research. I would certainly recommend both teaching and the SLP!

Good luck!

Amy

 

 

 

 

Presenting my PhD research at EurOMA 2016 conference in Norway!

Hi I’m Amy and I’m in the second year of my PhD in Management Science. I’m going to be sharing some of my experiences of life at Lancaster!

Trondheim Norway Amy

LUMS encourages PhD students to go to international academic conferences to present their research to others within the field. I love travelling so I am so pleased that we have the chance to do this! Last year in the first year of my PhD, I presented at the EurOMA Sustainability Forum in Barcelona, Spain and the EurOMA conference in Neuchatel, Switzerland.

I have recently returned from 10 days in Norway for the EurOMA 2016 conference. I went with two other students in my department so it was nice to get out of the office together! The conference took place in Trondheim and brings together leading academics in the Operations Management field. I spent the first two days of the conference at the Doctoral seminar. This is an opportunity for PhD students to present and discuss their research to other students and established researchers. This was my second doctoral seminar having attended the first in Switzerland last year. It was therefore really good to see the friends I made last year and I made some new friends. I also presented my research in the main conference. The conference was made up of numerous streams and you move around listening to different presentations depending on your interest. It is really motivating to learn about other people’s research which also challenges your own thinking. It also provides the opportunity to network with leading academics in your area- often the ones you cite in your work!

It’s not all hard work though! Meeting people is one of the best parts of the conference especially other students and we socialised every evening! The food was also amazing! I have made some great friends that I know I will always keep in touch with- we are still all swapping photos and reminiscing about the fun we had!

The conference arranged a number of social activities which ranged from an amazing concert in the beautiful local cathedral to the main conference dinner. The highlight was definitely watching sunset after midnight at the sky bar! This was shortly followed by sunrise as it never properly gets dark at this time of year!

On the last day of the conference there is always the opportunity to go on a factory tour at a leading local business. This year there was the added bonus of an afternoon sightseeing in Røros a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After a week of hard work and socialising we decide to have a few days sightseeing in Oslo on our way back home where we saw Munch’s renowned ‘The Scream’ painting and did some island hopping in the Oslo Fjord!

Conferences are a fantastic experience, I have had the chance to develop research contacts with both fellow students as well as senior academics within the field. I received invaluable feedback that will help me further develop my research. I have also been able to explore Norway and created some memorable experiences.

I took the photo in Trondheim- the same view was captured and used on the cover of the conference promotional material. I always make sure I get my own version at each conference I attend! We also have a tradition that we buy a postcard from each conference location we present at to display in our office!