Darren Comber tells us about his role as Senior Educational Development Adviser in the Centre for Academic Development

Tell us about your role at the University.

I head up a small team in the Centre for Academic Development which provides professional development for staff who teach and support learning at the University.  The development that we offer ranges from a Master’s level taught programme in higher education learning and teaching all the way through to one-off workshops on topics around learning and teaching. My team and I work with a wide range of staff and grades, recognising that teaching and supporting learning at our University is carried out by an increasingly broad range of individuals, many of whom might not think of themselves as ‘educators’.

How do you usually start your day?

It’s pretty much get up and go, as I live out of town. The drive in helps me to get my thoughts in gear for the coming day whilst coming-to; I’m not much of a morning person as my colleagues will testify. Once at the University, I’ll tend to urgent email traffic before reviewing the previous day’s progress and planning out the day ahead. Whilst drinking tea.  Lots of tea.

What brought you to the University of Aberdeen?

Two things.  First, this was a change in direction from my previous role as a Lecturer in Physical Geography at the University of Bradford.  As part of that role, I became increasingly involved in curriculum development.  That sparked my interest in how different people (academics and others) are involved in the process of helping students to learn and how they approach that. When a post at Aberdeen came up that allowed me to concentrate on these things full time, I took it.  Second, it was a quality of life move, providing opportunities to enjoy the fantastic range of outdoor activities available in the north-east of Scotland.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

I enjoy working with people from different disciplines and learning about their teaching and their underpinning philosophies of education. As with all teaching roles, witnessing that moment when the ‘lights come on’ for someone with whom I’m working is always a particular high point.  I’m also convinced that I could never work anywhere that didn’t give me access to a university library. Keeping up-to-date with my subjects, whilst along the way finding new ideas and approaches that might help others at the university, are immensely satisfying aspects of my role.

What are your work priorities at the moment?

Completing the process of professional reaccreditation of the University’s CPD Framework for Learning & Teaching by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) has taken up a lot of this year, alongside running regularly scheduled teaching programmes. Right now I’m concentrating on supporting staff who are writing their applications for HEA recognition via our CPD Framework, as well as teaching our PG Certificate programme.

How do you like to relax outside work?

I enjoy running and rock-climbing. I also like tinkering with anything mechanical; maybe I’m a bit old fashioned but I like things that can be mended, not thrown away the instant they don’t work.  My current non-work project involves preparing my Land Rover for an off-road trip across the Pyrenees