Two academics awarded National Teaching Fellowships for their excellence
Outstanding academics from the University of Sheffield have today (Thursday 26 July 2012) been recognised with the most prestigious award for excellence in higher education teaching.
Dr Brendan Stone, from the School of English, Literature, Language and Linguistics and Dr Tony Cowling, from the Department of Computer Science, were two of 55 academics from across the UK chosen by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) for National Teaching Fellowships.
More than 180 academics were nominated for the highly acclaimed fellowship by higher education institutions across England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Successful nominees were backed by their institutions for their individual excellence, raising the profile of excellence and developing excellence.
Each award-winner will be presented with £10,000 which may be used for their professional development in teaching and learning or aspects of pedagogy.
Senior University Teacher Dr Brendan Stone left school at the age of 16 with few qualifications and returned to education in his mid-thirties on a university access course. He has personal experience of long-term disability and unemployment, and views his non-traditional background as an asset and major influence in shaping his approach to work.
Since joining the University of Sheffield Dr Stone has developed several highly innovative initiatives including the Storying Sheffield project – a degree module in which undergraduates and residents of the city, who may have been marginalised or excluded from the community, study together at the University.
Dr Stone said: "I'm honoured to be awarded a National Teaching Fellowship. Over the past few years I've developed a number of projects which have brought together areas of University activity which are often regarded as discrete. For instance, the Storying Sheffield course is both an intellectually demanding undergraduate module, and a practical means of opening up participation to Sheffield residents who may have felt university was not for them. "
He added: "It's been incredibly heartening to see how participants on Storying Sheffield have built on and used the experience of the course to benefit their careers and lives. I have worked a great deal with people who have serious mental health problems, and many people who have taken the course have gone on to make positive changes in their lives, including returning to education, taking up volunteering opportunities, and gaining employment.
"Overall, much my work is in tune with the idea of Sheffield as a 'civic university', and I hope I have been able to demonstrate what this concept can mean in practice, and how it can benefit and enliven student experience and enrich the University's relationship with the city and region."
European Engineer (EUR ING) Dr Tony Cowling joined the University of Sheffield in 1973 after completing a PhD at Leeds. He became a lecturer in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science before transferring to the Department of Computer Science when it was established in 1980.
The senior lecturer led the creation of the department's undergraduate degree in Software Engineering which was one of the first in the world.
Dr Cowling said: "I’m delighted to have been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship. Individual bits of work get recognised from time to time, and that is encouraging, but this recognises 20-plus years of effort, which feels far more significant.
"My work has focused on how to teach students engineer software systems. When we first started this, even the professionals who could do it well had difficulty in explaining how they designed such systems, beyond saying things like “you know when it looks right”, which was no help at all in teaching students to do it!
"We have been able to develop ways of simplifying the problem, so that now we can build up students’ skills in stages, starting from simple systems and working up to industrial-scale ones."
Dr Cowling's work has led to his involvement in a number of international activities: accreditation workshops in the USA and Lithuania, and European Union 'Tempus' projects in Hungary and Romania.
Professor Craig Mahoney, Chief Executive of the HEA said the awards carry considerable prestige within the sector and are highly competitive.
He added:" The 55 new Fellows created this year have all made a highly valuable contribution to learning and teaching within their institutions and often more widely. At the HEA we are committed to recognising and rewarding excellence in teaching. Students deserve – and expect – the best possible learning experience during their time in higher education, and fantastic staff such as National Teaching Fellows help to deliver this experience."
The new National Teaching Fellows will officially receive their awards at a special ceremony in London on Wednesday October 10, 2012.
The National Teaching Fellowship
The Scheme is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland, and is open to staff whose roles support the student learning experience at institutions in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.
The University of Sheffield's Department of Computer Science
The University of Sheffield
With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.
The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007). These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world.
The University’s research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.
The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. Its partnership with Leeds and York Universities in the White Rose Consortium has a combined research power greater than that of either Oxford or Cambridge.
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