Brookes scoops three national teaching accolades

Friday, 26 June 2009

Three Brookes academics have won national recognition for their exceptional teaching.

Three Brookes academics have won national recognition for their exceptional teaching.

Each year, 50 of the UK's best university and college teachers are presented with National Teaching Fellowships from the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

The HEA has singled Brookes out, saying it is 'an exceptional achievement' for three to be awarded to one university.

Professor Janet Beer, Brookes' Vice-Chancellor, said: "This award confirms the fact that Brookes is home to some of the UK's best university teaching.

"I congratulate the new fellows and thank them on behalf of all our students for the effort and passion they bring to their work and for their tireless effort in championing innovative teaching at Brookes."

The three Brookes fellows are:

Berry O'Donovan, Head of Learning and Teaching Development at the Business School

Berry is a national expert in assessment and has been working in the area of large first year business classes. She believes that assessment, rather than just being a method of marking and grading, can be used to encourage and steer students in new directions.

She is Deputy Director of the ASKe Centre for Excellence at Brookes which was set up with a government grant of £4.5 million four years ago to look into ways of helping staff and students develop a common understanding of academic standards.

For example, she runs workshops where her students learn how to evaluate their own work prior to an assessed task. This approach empowers students, equipping them with a deeper understanding of assessment requirements and criteria. Another initiative is the module assistant scheme which employs students to help lecturers with the administration of their modules.

"Everyone benefits," she says. "Students gain insight into academia from 'the other side' and valuable work experience while staff learn to work in a productive partnership with their students."

The Business School is to spend £50,000 setting up a new feedback scheme, where first and second year students meet face-to-face with lecturers to discuss an assessed piece of work.

Dr Helen Walkington, Principal Lecturer in Geography

Dr Helen Walkington believes 'geography is learnt through the soles of your feet'. She has taken her teaching out of the lecture theatre and into the field creating opportunities for undergraduates to carry out field-based research through placements, expeditions, field trips and experiential learning courses.

Helen was awarded a University Teaching Fellowship for her project to start a journal of undergraduate research for the geography department. She then created a national journal of undergraduate research in geography, GEOverse, which has been developed over the last three years across four different partner universities.

Her work to encourage undergraduate research is regarded as one of the most interesting and exciting education projects currently taking place in the UK. She has taken the lead in embedding undergraduate research in the geography curriculum at Brookes, which could possibly be rolled out across the university.

Jude Carroll, Principal Lecturer in the Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development (OCSLD)

How does learning to play the Javanese gamelan help 200 people to understand plagiarism? Ask Jude Carroll. She has led hundreds of educational development workshops around the world that make use of creative and innovative activities to help colleagues deter plagiarism.

When Jude began investigating plagiarism in 2000 it was a little-discussed issue, but interest grew, due largely to the impact of her book, Deterring Student Plagiarism in Higher Education.

She helped set up an innovative system for managing plagiarism cases quickly and fairly, using strategies which are now in place in many other institutions. In 2008, she started a one-year secondment in Sweden to share the lessons learned in the UK.

Jude has a reputation for suggesting practical, realistic approaches for teaching the growing number of international students in UK universities. Her book, Teaching International Students: Improving Learning For All (2005), co-edited with Dr Janette Ryan, serves as a textbook in several European countries and is widely cited and positively reviewed.

The National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS) is part of an overall HEA programme to raise the status of learning and teaching in higher education. Each Fellow will receive an award of £10,000 to be used in developing their work.

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