Uni teaching awards honour Oxford staff

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53 Oxford University staff members were recognised for their contributions to education in the Oxford University Teaching Awards this week.

The scheme, launched by the University in 2006, celebrates individuals or teams in acknowledgement of their excellent teaching. The focus is on innovation and the use of new, engaging ways to help students learn, from the creation of courses or teaching materials to the delivery of exceptional lectures.

Winners were selected from different subject divisions, with academic, administrative and library staff all gaining recognition.

In addition to the personal awards, sixteen of the winners also received grants to improve teaching and learning. In the past, these grants have funded projects including residential courses, training for students, and this year grants were awarded to projects from the Department of Sociology to develop a wholly new graduate paper on demography, and from the Department of Biochemistry to develop a bank of multiple-choice questions to be used in the Biomedical Sciences Preliminary Examination.

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The awards were presented at a ceremony at Rhodes House by Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education at Oxford, Sally Mapstone, who called it “the one occasion in the year when we can pause and celebrate excellence and innovation across the University, in the academic divisions, Continuing Education, libraries, museums, and services, and colleges.”

She went on to say that “teaching is one of the most important things we do in Oxford, and the particular, personalised character of our teaching is one of the things that makes us recognised as one of the leading universities in the world.”

The winners included Dr Kevin Coward, Professor Elizabeth Eva Leach, Dr Robert Wilkins jointly with Dr Mark Wormald, Professor Francesco Billari jointly with Dr Christiaan Monden, and Dr Michael Athanson, for achievements ranging from the creation of new graduate courses to innovative use of technology in teaching.

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Dr Kevin Coward was the recipient of the Major Educator Award for the development of the MSc in Clinical Ebryology. He was “delighted” at this, and thanked the support and commitment of those involved.

He said: “The course continues to attract global attention and I am deeply honoured to lead the inspirational team being recognised with the award. I would particularly like to thank our students, both past and present, for their trust, motivation, and dedication.”

In addition, this year was the first time that OUSU organised a parallel scheme of student-led teaching awards, the winners of which were also recognised at the ceremony. Winners were selected from five subject divisions in the categories of ‘innovation in teaching’ and ‘most acclaimed lecturer’, based on some 400 nominations.

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Sally Mapstone expressed her pride that “our student body has indicated its own strong commitment to the significance of quality and innovation in the teaching Oxford offers.”

One of the winners, Dr Justin Hardin commented: “It is a wonderful honour to receive the inaugural OUSU award for Most Innovative Teacher in the Humanities Division, and I am privileged to be part of this University’s dynamic learning community.”

Second-year Mathematician and member of Lincoln’s Access and Academic Affairs team, Ellie Rendle, added: “I think it’s great that interesting and innovative teaching is being rewarded by the University, and particularly that students’ views are being taken into account. These awards are well deserved, and they prove Oxford’s commitment to student satisfaction and excellence in learning.”

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