Words by Sarah Maqbool, Deputy Editor of The Spark.
As a student who had nominated a staff member for a RUSU Teaching & Learning Excellence Award, I was immensely pleased (not to mention proud) when I received an email stating that who I had nominated had indeed won; requesting me to attend and present the award to the individual I had nominated.
I enjoyed the ceremony immensely. Each and every winner repeatedly emphasised how their achievements would not have been possible without the support and engagement from their students and fellow staff members.
Not only was every speech incredibly inspiring and, dare I say it- wholesome- but every individual had a few memorable lessons for those in the audience- learners and teachers alike.
Here are just a few of the recommendations made by this year’s teaching excellence winners:
- Struggling with managing your tutor office hours? Try using www.doodle.com, an online platform that allows your students to book support sessions with you in advance.
- Need quick, accessible feedback on your teaching? Try using www.pollev.com, an online polling platform that allows your students to easily vote on what’s working and what isn’t.
- Don’t wait until end of module surveys are completed to figure out what’s working and what isn’t, conduct your own mid-term module survey using www.surveymonkey.com and enhance your teaching on the spot.
- Preparing students for an exam? Plenty of mock tests with answers will help get them used to answering questions and exam technique.
- Including a slide of ‘review questions’ at the end of lectures will allow your students to use them for reflection when revising for exams.
Details of ground breaking projects were shared, career highlights mentioned and course & school reps alike thanked. It’s just a shame not many students who were invited to support the individual they had nominated were present to see themselves credited in that individual’s success- learner or teacher.
Here are each winner, with a comment from their nomination:
Award winner for Teaching Excellence (Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences): Dr Jacqui Turner
Nomination comments: “Goes above and beyond her job to ensure you understand and are supported throughout university. Her passion, kindness and enthusiasm is inspiring.”
Award winner for Teaching Excellence (Science): Dr Sally Lloyd-Evans.
Nomination comments: “Gave me the opportunity to develop myself personally and academically through the UROP scheme, has guided me through my dissertation and has been supportive and helpful throughout both her modules.”
Award winner for Teaching Excellence (Life Sciences): Dr Mirjana Sokolovic-Perovic
Nomination comments: “Goes above and beyond to make course content engaging and enjoyable…arrives at every lecture with a smile on her face, ready to make difficult concepts fully accessible and understood by every student…really cares about her students by rapidly making herself, and helpful resources available upon request.”
Award winner for Teaching Excellence (Business): Dr Lebene Soga
Nomination comments: “Made lectures and practicals very useful and interesting…has tried to make everyone interact in his classes in which he teaches by giving real-life examples…has helped when I could not understand all the information, making it interesting and understandable.”
Award winner for Academic Tutor Excellence: Dr Holly Robson
Nomination comments: “Has offered meetings at regular intervals (more regular than any of my peers)…has gone over work with me and liaised with other members of staff on my behalf…have created strategies for tackling upcoming deadlines and exams and she has also gone above and beyond with individual assignments.”
Award winner for Support Staff Excellence: Sam Bennett (School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science)
Nomination comments: “Not only a gem of a person, but also a fantastic student support coordinator…completely puts you at ease with her friendly smile and support. She is truly a credit to her role and GES at Reading.”
Award winner for Diverse & Inclusive Teaching Excellence: Dr Allan Laville
Nomination comments: “Has always been considerate and understanding of my extenuating circumstances…has gone above and beyond for me and deserves recognition for the positive impact he has had on my learning this year.”
Award winner for Graduate Teaching Assistant Excellence: Dina Ghanma
Nomination comments: “Making sure students fully understand the concepts is her main goal…she has achieved beyond that. Not only did she apply the best teaching approaches, but she also put her efforts into advancing and trying new approaches all the time.”
Award winner for Outstanding Student-Staff Partnership: Dr Alicia Pena (Life Tools)
Nomination comments: “This programme has had such a positive impact on students within the law school and would not have been possible if it was not for the hard work Alicia has put into creating the course…has inspired all students who come to the talks by providing constructive and positive advice and has played a critical role in forming a partnership which helps students.”
Award winner for Course Rep of the Year (2019): Leah Napier (Biological Sciences- Part 3)
Award winner for School Rep of the Year (2019): Will Page (Law- Part 2)