September member Spotlight | Melissa Mulhall

Melissa was previously featured for our Member Spotlight, discussing her experience as an AUA Advocate.

Why do you do it?

I have had the pleasure to act as one of the lead conference moderators for the AUA conference since 2011.  The role involves individual review and assessment of the workshop sessions that should be accepted for the conference, those that require modification etc. This review is undertaken by evaluating each proposal on their merits based upon the AUA’s selection criteria.

This is followed by working collaboratively to moderate and finalise the selection process; this involves opening up the discussions to look at areas of difference / borderline proposals before confirming the final decision. The lead moderators also hugely benefit from the fantastic work of the team of first level moderators who undertake the initial process so a big thank you to all of you.

What have you gained from this opportunity?

The role offers an extraordinary opportunity to contribute and shape the AUA national conference workshop programme and ensure that the conference delivers a high-quality, varied and balanced programme of workshops that align to the conference theme, have broad appeal and currency in the HE sector and to the diverse group of AUA members.  We are looking for proposals with clarity of expression and demonstrate successfully how they will maximise engagement with the content and encourage critical thinking and insights and address selected AUA CPD behaviours and equality and diversity considerations. The high standards of workshop proposals over the past years has been impressive and has undoubtedly delivered an excellence conference experience for the AUA and its members.

I have learnt a tremendous amount from undertaking this role in terms of evaluating session proposals to ensure that the proposed content, aims and learning outcomes are aligned, accessible and articulated clearly. The importance of good workshop design and how the presentation of this information is tailored to the intended audience cannot be underestimated. A good title and synopsis which explains what the session will cover goes a very long way! As voluntary roles goes this is an annual short, intensive and time-pressured role, which requires a raft of skills (planning, organisation, communication, negotiation and influencing skills, knowledge and understanding of the HE sector and the professional development needs of the AUA membership) alongside the key evaluative and assessment skills and an ability to provide structured feedback to authors of proposals.

Would you recommend the role?

Yes, without a shadow of doubt. Undertaking this important role for the AUA has been a tremendously enriching experience that has extended and deepened my professional practice and skillset. Not only does it offer excellent insights into all the first-class work that is undertaken across the Higher Education sector, it has certainly helped to hone my skills of critical reflection and analysis.

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