Inspirational learning and teaching was celebrated at this year's Education Awards, held on Thursday 6 May 2021. The Education Awards combines the Academic Rep Awards, Peer Support Awards and University Teaching Awards in one night of celebration. Nominees, colleagues and students from across the University were invited to watch the live-stream of the event.
This year, a record numbers of nominations were received for the University Teaching Awards, which recognise outstanding staff achievements in learning and teaching across the University. Professor Peter Lambert, Chair of the Awards Committee, congratulated all nominees for their commitment to delivering exceptionally high quality learning and teaching, and pastoral support activities.
We look forward to talking to our award winners over the coming weeks to find out more about their outstanding effort and commitment to learning and teaching, and what it means to them to win an award.
Innovation in Learning and Teaching Award
The Innovation in Learning and Teaching Award is made in recognition of a significant contribution to innovation in curriculum design, content or delivery.
Dr Nathalia Gjersoe (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences) was congratulated for her work in introducing and developing the innovative Psychology of Wellbeing unit. This new unit aims to address growing concerns about student wellbeing in their transition to university and to help develop students’ engagement with wellbeing interventions and behaviour change. Supporting statements from students have described this innovative addition to the curriculum as a ‘breath of fresh air’, ‘incredibly progressive’ and ‘an opportunity to reflect on our wellbeing and teach us tools to improve it’.
"I am utterly delighted to have won this year’s Innovation in Learning and Teaching Award for my unit Psychology of Wellbeing. Thank you to the selection panel for choosing it, thank you to the Psychology department for nominating it and for taking a chance on something a bit experimental, and thank you to the amazing students for all their constructive feedback. It has been a real joy to be given the opportunity to develop and deliver this unit and I hope to be able to make it available more widely." Nathalia Gjersoe
Mary Tasker Award
The Mary Tasker Award recognises excellence in teaching, particularly through the use of creative and effective approaches.
Dr Sarah Bailey (Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology) is this year's winner of the Mary Tasker Award. Dr Bailey has been described as ‘a whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm’ and is known for her unfailing dedication to the enhancement of the student learning experience. In adapting to the Bath Blend, she has incorporated a range of approaches into her research-based teaching to facilitate interactive learning and provide students with digital engagement skills. Consistently high feedback demonstrates the effectiveness of these approaches and the high regard in which she is held by students. She has been instrumental in rewriting the curriculum for the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. Her development of a public engagement unit for Pharmacology students preparing for placements and future careers is to be particularly commended.
"I'm so delighted to win this award. I really enjoy teaching and I'm grateful to all the students who make it such a rewarding experience. It's great to have this recognition, particularly after the academic year we've all had, when we've all been working harder than ever to meet the challenges of engaging students remotely. It's a great end to the academic year!" Sarah Bailey
John Willis Award
The John Willis Award recognises dedication to the academic and personal lives of students combined with a significant contribution to teaching and accomplishment in research.
Dr Anna Young (Department of Mechanical Engineering) is this year's winner of the John Willis Award. Dr Young arrived at Bath just two years ago and, since then, has made exceptional contributions to research, teaching and student support. She has used the Bath Blend to enable active learning and, in the role of Senior Tutor, has made a real difference in how her department approaches the support of students. Her academic achievements are described as being ‘of the highest international standard’. Indeed, they have earned her two Best Paper awards from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the prestigious Gas Turbine Award – becoming the first woman in the Award’s 57-year history.
"I'd like to say thank you to everyone in the Department of Mechanical Engineering for making me feel so welcome over the past two years, and to the students for sticking with it through lockdowns and laughing at my jokes." Anna Young
Director of Studies Award
The Director of Studies Award recognises the important role played by Directors of Studies in supporting learning and teaching, and their positive impact on the student experience. We received many strong nominations for this Award.
Two nominees stood out, however, as having gone above and beyond the responsibilities of their role to create an exceptional environment for both students and staff. Our joint winners are Dr John Benardis (Department of Computer Science) and Dr Howard White (Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies).
Dr John Benardis has been a Director of Studies for a relatively short time but has already achieved extraordinary results, despite stepping up to the role in incredibly challenging times. The Committee received numerous nominations from students who praised him for his dedication and for going above and beyond. He works tirelessly to make sure that students are heard and works proactively in partnership with student reps, lead peer mentors, the Women in Technology Group and Bath Computer Science Society to support their activities. His efforts have been both appreciated and amplified by the student community.
Dr Howard White has been an outstanding Director of Studies for many years. Despite having responsibility for around 500 students, he has devoted himself to supporting them and to making sure that they achieve their potential. Over the past year, he has delivered tailored inductions for returning students to facilitate their transition to the Bath Blend. In addition to supporting students, he is also actively involved in inducting and mentoring other Directors of Studies as they move into the new roles.
"I am honoured for receiving this award. To me it represents a recognition of the partnership we built with our students this year. We wouldn't be able to achieve all the things we did this year as a department if we didn't have so engaged and proactive students working with us. Being approachable, understanding and empowering students to shape their experience was key this past year and will be my tenets moving forward in this role. I was also lucky to start this role in such an amazing DoS and DoT team that supported and shared good practices every step of the way." John Benardis
"I am very conscious of how many equally deserving Directors of Studies we have at Bath, but I am of course touched and honoured to have been selected. It is a role in which it is possible to make a difference, and for individuals on the margins, sometimes a big one. It is very rewarding and I would encourage younger colleagues to step forward to try it!" Howard White
Best Team Award in Support of Student Learning
The Best Team in Support of Student Learning Award recognises exceptional or innovative teamwork in the delivery of learning and teaching.
This year, two teams stood out as having made an exceptional contribution. Our winners are: Directors of Studies Team in the Department of Computer Science and the Directors of Studies Team in the Department of Education.
The Directors of Studies Team in the Department of Computer Science (Dr John Benardis, Mr Zack Lyons, Dr Marina de Vos and Dr Bhagyashree Patil) is to be congratulated for the time, dedication and support they give to students in their department at each stage of their journey. The team’s ethos is to empower students to co-create a positive experience in a collaborative learning environment. Described as ‘the students’ anchor’ during the pandemic, they are well known for the exceptional care they dedicate to Computer Science students who are experiencing wellbeing difficulties and, in particular, for their work with Student Services to ensure all students have an opportunity to focus on their studies.
The Directors of Studies Team in the Department of Education (Dr Tristan Bunnell, Dr Reka Ratkaine Jablonkai, Dr Graham Nutbrown, Dr Nicola Savvides and Dr Adem Soruc) have contributed to impressive initiatives far beyond their normal role and have achieved exceptional outcomes. Described as having ‘trail-blazed the provision of an effective teaching environment’ in the Department of Education, they have brought strong leadership during the transition to the Bath Blend, implemented an innovative Enrichment Programme and provided students with an additional layer of academic and pastoral support.
"The academic year 2020-21 has been a challenging year for all of us, staff and students alike. Building on each other's strengths, we worked as a close team to support our Computer Science community during these trying times. While we are extremely pleased to have received this award this would not have been possible without the support and input from our students and colleagues in the department and faculty." Director of Studies Team, Computer Science
Leadership in Learning and Teaching Award
Prof Matthew Jones, Department of Chemistry, is awarded the Leadership in Learning and Teaching Award. Professor Jones has led the teaching effort in his department from the front. Over the course of the past year, he has worked tirelessly to ensure that all students have been offered the opportunity to engage in as much practical chemistry as possible within social distancing constraints. He has actively contributed to discussions at both the Faculty of Science and University levels and has played a key role in shaping the debate about how we use the lessons learned over the past year as we transition to a post-pandemic world. Throughout this time, he has continued to lead the Department of Chemistry’s plans for curriculum transformation.
“The last 18 months have been really challenging and I am super excited to have won the award. Working in the department of chemistry is really good fun – the staff and students are amazing.” Matthew Jones
Our Highly Commended nominees
This year, several nominees were awarded Highly Commended by the Awards Committee: Mr Daniel Wong, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering (Director of Studies Award); Dr Rob Grover, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering (Mary Tasker Award); Dr Carl Sangan, Department of Mechanical Engineering (Mary Tasker Award).