Creating case studies for the HEA Senior Fellow Application

I have been involved in informally supporting a number of HEA Senior Fellowship applicants.  I thought it helpful to share my thoughts and feedback on their draft case studies, in hope that it might also be useful for others.

Common issues have resulted in the following advice:

Consider the impact of each case with evidence – so for example if someone is describing their pro-active and innovative approaches to feedback, it is necessary to say how they know their approach is working well.

• Consider the impact of the case on your own values and attitudes –  as a result of involvement in the case did you rethink any assumptions about your role or your approach to supporting learning? By example, the person using innovative approaches to feedback as their case might say that student engagement led them to change their assumptions about students’ expectations; they discovered their students valued less feedback in a timely way, more than they valued extensive feedback which takes longer to deliver, in turn this led them to adjust their feedback practice.

• Consider different types of impact. The impact of the case may be on students, colleagues, the institution and its policies/systems, the discipline community or network or the sector as a whole. A Senior Fellowship application should really include evidence of institutional impact.

• Give detail about individual contributions when working on joint projects.

• Give detail about the specific context; sometimes there is a need to make the institutional and discipline context more explicit. Sticking with the feedback example, there might be a need to describe how the practical emphasis of the curriculum acts as an influence on the approach taken to feedback.

People approach the case studies in very different ways but I would recommend some kind of structure to ensure going beyond description. A proposed structure would be something similar to the following:

  • Describe the activity and an outline of the rationale
  • Consider what worked well and what not so well in practice
  • Identify what you learnt in involving in this activity and note any changes to your prior assumptions
  • Describe the impact but ensure that impact points to sources of evidence – student feedback, colleague feedback, or external feedback are all ok
  • Describe what the next steps might be to advance this area of practice even further.

This of course is just one way to tackle the task and I’m sure there are many more!


  1. HI Stephen, Good to hear from you. I put together a Senior Fellowship application (and was successful) earlier in the year. I’m now supporting colleagues through the same process and am developing a framework to enable us to undertake our own recognition, so steadily getting to grips with all of this. I think many of the same points apply to both Senior and Principal – particularly evidence of sustained impact and engaging in constant reflection, with follow up action or assumption changes. I think the scale of impact is a key difference – with the Principal one having greater reach. Another difference is the emphasis on leadership but of course this doesn’t need to just be leadership of people. Amongst the applications that I have seen the better ones show leadership across a good range of activities and don’t rely on formal roles and status to demonstrate leadership – they demonstrate walking the walk as well. The main issue was getting the time to write it!

    • Hi Jane

      It’s ‘right hand side’ – sorry that was a rubbish abbreviation! 🙂 It’s on the right hand menu bar or hopefully this link will get you there too. I should add a note of caution for anyone looking at this – I think my application is atypical in that it includes quite a lot of literature/references; Where I have seen other applications they are less formal in style.

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