Teaching excellence rewarded

At a ceremony at Rhodes House on 7 November, 53 Oxford University staff received awards in recognition of their contributions to teaching.

The Oxford University Teaching Awards recognise different ways to engage students and help them learn, from creating new courses to innovative use of audio and video podcasts and the delivery of exceptional lectures and demonstrations.

The scheme, which is coordinated by the Oxford Learning Institute, recognises excellence in college and University teaching, with the winners selected by their divisions. In addition to academic staff, the award winners include a number of administrative and support staff, including library staff, who were recognised for their contributions to the success of University courses.

The award certificates were presented by Dr Sally Mapstone, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at Oxford. Sixteen of the award winners received grants to support educational projects aimed at improving teaching and learning.

Many of the awards were made following feedback from undergraduates, graduates and members of staff who have singled out the special contribution of those involved in promoting the highest standards of teaching and learning.

Among those receiving awards were 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.

Dr Kevin Coward and his team at the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology were given a Major Educator Award recognising their exceptional contribution to medical education for the development of the MSc in Clinical Embryology, a course which aims to inspire and motivate future leaders in the treatment of human infertility.

Professor Elizabeth Eva Leach of the Faculty of Music received an award recognising her innovative teaching practice by creating the first ever interactive open-source notation course for medieval music. Professor Leach also won an award in Oxford University Computing Service's OxTALENT scheme for the innovative use of IT in teaching.

Dr Robert Wilkins of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics and Dr Mark Wormald of the Department of Biochemistry were given a Teaching Award Project Grant to develop a bank of multiple-choice questions for use in the Biomedical Sciences Preliminary Examination. Dr Wilkins also won an award in Oxford University Computing Service's OxTALENT scheme for the innovative use of IT in teaching.

Professor Francesco Billari and Dr Christiaan Monden of the Department of Sociology were given a Teaching Award Project Grant to develop an entirely new graduate paper in demography that will offer a graduate course on core demographic concepts and demographic methods both within an existing MPhil programme and also, more widely, to students across the subjects within the Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Centre.

Dr Michael Athanson, Deputy Map Librarian and Geospatial Specialist of the Bodleian Libraries was recognised for his contribution to teaching and learning in the map-making aspects of geographic information systems (GIS) software.

This year's ceremony also recognised winners of the first Oxford University Student Union Teaching Awards, given to teachers nominated and selected by students in the categories of 'innovation in teaching' and 'most acclaimed lecturer.'  Ten winners were selected from each subject division and the Department for Continuing Education after more than 400 students submitted nominations.

The Teaching Awards scheme was launched by the University in 2006.