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Queen Mary celebrates teaching innovation and excellence

Queen Mary has celebrated the incredible effort that staff have gone to in supporting students this year at an awards ceremony recognising excellence in teaching and learner support across the University. 

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Queen's Building of QMUL
Queen's Building of QMUL

The Annual Education Excellence Awards and President and Principal's Prizes 2020 took place at an online ceremony on Tuesday 8 December. The ceremony saw Principal Professor Colin Bailey and Vice Principal (Education) Professor Stephanie Marshall highlight the innovative spirit that has driven teams in every Queen Mary faculty this year to develop models of blended learning in record time.

As Professor Marshall recently wrote in an essay for the influential Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) think tank, this year’s move to blended learning represents “the next major shift in our approach to education.”

The Awards announced in this year’s ceremony are examples of how every faculty at Queen Mary is embracing the opportunity to develop cutting edge new models of learning and teaching.

Everyone at the University congratulates and applauds our award-winning colleagues.

Education Excellence Awards winners

Humanities and Social Science

Colm Murphy - School of History

This award is for an early-career academic who has already made an outstanding contribution. His mentor nominated him because of how inclusive, open and yet rigorous his teaching is. He has created a climate in which students feel comfortable speaking and trying out ideas, yet which constantly aspires to the highest academic standards.

Common Ground - School of Languages, Linguistics and Film  

This award is for a team (Faith NightingaleDr Maria Romero-GonzálezDr Rosemary Clyne and Dr Sabita Menon) who have developed cross-programme networking in our transnational education (TNE) provision. Feedback and focus groups revealed that students did not see value in cross-programme networking. The team took a different approach to create spaces for students to raise their awareness in other areas by developing the ‘Common Ground’ project. This enables skills development and student engagement through teamwork and peer-to-peer learning. 

Faith Nightingale - School of Languages, Linguistics and Film 

This award is presented to a colleague who has worked on creating a unique materials library with the second-year students in the Queen Mary Engineering School (QMES). This project, which runs for an entire semester, is seen as the focal point of QMES.

Dr Rachel Male - School of Economics and Finance

This award is in recognition of the vision and leadership shown by the recipient in the move to blended education in their School. They led on the development, implementation, and communication of the strategy, which offers face-to-face learning on all modules. 

Sarah Riley - School of Economics and Finance

This recipient was key in putting together programme structures and timelines for January start programmes. They have also been heavily involved in assisting their School in securing a tender for a new Masters’ level degree apprenticeship programme.

James Kilvington - School of Economics and Finance

This award recognises a colleague who been key in achieving substantial improvements in the Schools’ Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) scores in the organisation and management questions. They have offered consistency of support to students and became the ‘face’ of the School and its professional services team.

Shahnaz Shahid - School of Economics and Finance

This award is for a member of staff who created guides and ran training sessions to ensure colleagues were equipped to move content online and record lectures when needed and developed a system to allow the School to run online exams effectively via QMplus.

Science and Engineering Humanities and Social Science

Biomedical Sciences Programme Teaching Group - School of Biological and Chemical Sciences 

This award is for a team who have worked collaboratively to shape a programme which had grown somewhat organically into a coherent package. They identified the skills they wanted students to develop and how this should be achieved. These changes resulted in significant improvements in the NSS: between 2018 and 2019, satisfaction increased for 14/27 questions, and nine of these increases were at least five percentage points.

Dr Shabnam Beheshti - School of Mathematical Sciences

This award is for a member of staff who has been working both “in front of and behind the scenes” on improving the student experience in their School for the past 5 years. She has designed and set the agenda for a new culture of conversation and co‐creation between staff and students; the actions and associated narrative resulted in the TEF Dry Runs shifting the initial Bronze metrics to a high Silver rating.

Ho Huen - School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science 

This award is for a member of staff who has redeveloped the Electronics Lab for use in both a safe, socially distanced fashion, and pioneered the use of personal and remote Lab technology for all students to use this Lab safely. This work has been genuinely innovative and has facilitated blended learning in this critical area of teaching and learning.

School of Medicine and Dentistry 

Dr Paula Vickerton - Institute of Health Sciences Education

This award is for a colleague who led in the rapid conversion of hands-on teaching into engaging online delivery. They led development and delivery of small group interactive online tutorials. These tutorials were based around encouraging students to engage in active learning, and received incredibly positive feedback from students.

Turnbull Centre for Anatomy and Physiology - Institute of Health Sciences Education

This award is for a team who have developed engaging online delivery of anatomy and physiology, and have now started to implement in person enrichment teaching within the laboratory. This has required a fundamental redesign of the sessions to be Covid-secure and to maximise the students’ time with activities they cannot do online.

Dr Louise Younie - Institute of Health Sciences Education

This award is for a member of staff who has developed co-creative leadership opportunities with students through virtual clinical placements. This work is responsive to the unprecedented challenges in medical education and aligns with the vision to ‘co-create our pedagogical approach with our students to deliver a gold-standard education…[making an environment] where students and staff flourish’.

Dr Cassandra Lewis - Institute of Dentistry

This recipient constructed a formative online ‘Transition to Clinical Practice’ module, mapped to the existing curriculum. This comprised a 12‐week flipped learning approach, with fortnightly asynchronous and synchronous activities scaffolded on clinical scenarios. Following positive student and staff feedback, this module has now been embedded permanently.

Emergency & Resuscitation MSc team – Blizard Institute

This team had originally planned to deliver human factors training in a summer school. However, as the programme attracts many overseas students, they needed to develop an online mechanism to deliver and develop these skills ensuring equity of access. The human factors training is fully integrated and means that the team can provide timely, module specific discussions to ground the theoretical nature of much of the content in practical application.

Community Based Medical Education Unit - Institute of Health Sciences Education

This award is for a small team of professional services staff and part‐time clinical academics with unique cohesion leading to highly rated student experience, with local, national and international reach. They have had to rapidly redesign student placements, and have blended online learning with virtual patient contact and remote consulting. They adjusted to the dynamic pressures the pandemic has wrought on the NHS and placed every single student.

President and Principal’s Prize winners

Dr Jeffrey Kennedy - School of Law

This award recognises a colleague, who, in his short time in the School of Law has demonstrated a sincere diligence, care and commitment to teaching innovation and student democracy that has invited plaudits from both colleagues and students. In his new elective he has introduced a new podcast initiative where each week, he and a different group of 3-5 students co-create an episode. They also feature an impressive array of guests who can lend expertise to the topic, with the students preparing their own questions for the interview.

Drawing inspiration from democratic innovations, he is piloting a 'Students' Jury' on online learning to amplify the student voice and allow for thoughtful, informed input from a representative cross-section of the student body. 

Dr Chris Sparks - School of History

This award recognises outstanding work in the development of the E-Clio application for the School of History and its current development for other Schools across the Faculty. E-Clio brings together centrally-held information from a range of systems, presenting staff with a simple and easy-to-use interface on these data. It has enabled the School to maintain a consistently excellence performance across a period of unprecedented growth, challenge and change. The application is currently being piloted in three other Schools (School of English and Drama, School of Geography and Department of Law) and there are plans to roll it out to all Schools in the HSS Faculty for September 2021.

Teaching & Learning Team for the School of Engineering and Materials Science

This award is for a team who have created, implemented and delivered a 10-week training course for all academic staff in their School during the transition to blended learning. They used a collegial and friendly approach during the sessions, creating spaces for empathy, compassion and learning during a very stressful time. They made a huge effort to deliver high-quality sessions for academics while continuing with their ‘normal’ teaching jobs.

The impact of their work has been evident in the quality and readiness of online learning in the School and it has transcended the School, having an impact across the Faculty and the University. The team were invited to give a talk at the 2020 AdvanceHE Online Curriculum symposium and have engaged in discussions for using this model with other UK Universities. 

Congratulations to Dr Maria Romero-González, Dr Folashade Akinmolayan-Taiwo, Dr Gabriel Cavalli and Dr Andrew Spowage.

Dr Steven Buckingham - School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

This award is for a member of staff who has been at Queen Mary a little over a year and his impact has been immense. He stepped into the role of the School’s Director of Innovation and Good Practice just as Covid commenced. He created an online training program for staff in how to deliver online to our students. He delivered this via a blended QMplus module for staff ‘The Blender University’. At time of writing this module had received 6,631 hits! The training he provided has been instrumental in ensuring we have a world-leading e-Learning Environment.

Anti-Racism Steering Committee for the School of Medicine and Dentistry Institute of Health Sciences Education

This award is for a collaborative student-staff partnership that aims to start and continue meaningful conversations about diversity in the University and to improve the quality and representation of issues on race and diversity in the curriculum. 

They have actively contributed to embedding formal governance structures to ensure their work feeds into existing structures, developed and collected an archive of learning resources, created surveys, and built an evidence-base of student feedback, experiences and suggestions for change to diversify the curriculum and create an inclusive university culture. Their regular meetings are dedicated to having meaningful conversations about race.

Dr Sadani Cooray - William Harvey Research Institute

This award is for a member of staff who is recognised as an outstanding educator and has had a transformative impact on pharmacology education in the UK. She developed an innovative undergraduate pharmacology programme that meets the highest academic standards and which fills a graduate skills gap. She was appointed to the Expert Group of the British Pharmacological Society (BPS) and was invited to provide advice to revise the national core undergraduate pharmacology curriculum.

Her impact on this curriculum demonstrates her standing as a leader in pharmacology teaching in the UK. She has led the Queen Mary BSc in Pharmacology and Innovative Therapeutics degree single-handedly since its launch in 2015. Her dedication to the programme and students was evidenced by the two consecutive National Student Survey (NSS) successes: 88.3 per cent overall satisfaction in the 2018/19 NSS and 100 per cent overall satisfaction in the 2019/20 NSS.





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