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Celebrating our teaching and learner support with the Education Excellence Awards and President and Principal's Prizes 2020

These annual awards recognise excellence in teaching and learner support at an institutional level, including endeavour beyond the classroom or behind the scenes. Individuals and teams are recognised for identifying an issue or area for improvement or innovation. This year’s awards recognise the incredible effort and innovation in adapting to a blended learning offer in record time. 



Professor Colin Bailey, President and Principal and Professor Stephanie Marshall, Vice-Principal (Education), presented Queen Mary's Education Excellence Awards and President and Principal's Prizes for 2020/21 at an online ceremony held on Tuesday 8 December.

Professor Stephanie Marshall, Queen Mary's Vice-Principal (Education) opened the online awards ceremony by recognising the huge amount of work that staff have put into the excellent blending learning offer for 2020/21. She said: “It gives me great pleasure to present these annual awards for the third time. It has been clear from reading these nominations – and from my conversations with students, Directors of Education, Programme Directors and others – that a huge amount of work has gone in to an excellent blended learning offer for 2020/21. Congratulations to all the winners, it is wonderful to see the incredible innovative work that colleagues have undertaken and under some very challenging circumstances.

Professor Marshall also took a moment before announcing the winners to recognise some of the previous awardees who have gone on to obtain external recognition. The Legal Advice Centre were awarded the Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence after the award of their President and Principal’s Prize in 2018/19 and Professor Maralyn Druce was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship after she received the President and Principal’s Prize last year. 

Education Excellence Awards

Humanities and Social Sciences:

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 Nightingale, Dr 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. Always keen to be involved in contributing to and engaging with initiatives outside of the School, she was a member of the Education 3.1 timetabling sub-group.

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

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 business-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 by doing 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 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 Prizes

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 in the Faculty and the University through the various roles they took in the Education 3.1 project. 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.

The Education Excellence Awards and President and Principal’s Prizes were introduced to recognize and reward excellence in education across Queen Mary to embed a culture of excellence in teaching, student support and to inform future practice. Find out more about the awards, the nominations process and eligibility criteria . 



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