Last night saw the return of the Academic Awards. Over 400 nominations were received across the different categories which included Best Student Rep, Best Digital Teaching and Best Personal Tutor.
The annual awards aim to recognise those who have enhanced academic life and improved the educational experience for those around them.
Now all winners have been decided..
BEST PERSONAL TUTOR
MOHAMMED NASSAR (BIOMEDICAL SCIENCE)
Flying far from your home country to study in Sheffield, there is a lot to experience. It was not easy for me at all because my friends are very fluent in English and that makes me so afraid to talk or even share my ideas. Luckily, I had my personal tutor (Dr. Mohammed Nassar) who was there to support and understand me. On the journey, you will never understand how it feels unless you experience it yourself, and it’s brilliant to have someone that you can talk with and always support you until you reach your goal.
BEST NON-ACADEMIC STAFF MEMBER
DALE GRIFFIN (301 SKILLS & DEVELOPMENT CENTRE)
Dale would often be the first person a student would see when entering the 301 Academic Skills and Development Centre, and his professional and empathetic manner would be reassuring to students who were often distressed and anxious. It is essential that the first person they see is approachable, helpful and friendly and Dale provides this and more. He goes out of his way to make all students feel welcome and his attitude and approach ensures even the most nervous student feels more relaxed.
AWARD FOR STUDENT SUPPORT & WELLBEING
HELEN DICKINSON (LIBRARY AND ADDITIONAL SUPPORT TEAM)
Helen has a continually supportive nature. She gave me a tour of The Diamond earlier this year as I was really anxious about using the place. She showed me all the areas I could use to study, quieter areas and explained the assisted spaces access etc. Nothing was too much trouble for her to point out or explain. Every time she sees me she makes the effort to come over and see how I'm doing. I'm not just a face in the crowd.
BEST POSTGRADUATE SUPERVISOR
RUTH HERBERT (HUMAN COMMUNICATIONS SCIENCES)
Dr Herbert encouraged me to pursue a PhD and supported me through many financial/grant applications; even after I returned home to Sri Lanka. To be reading for a PhD as a working, remote-location student, is beyond challenging but Dr Herbert has continuously supported me through extremely tough conditions. She made an extra effort to help me access the same opportunities that full time students benefit from such as student discussion groups, opportunities to present my data etc. She never forgets words of encouragement and praises the smallest of efforts. She has taught me that being an academic is not only knowledge based but is best practiced if a healthy student teacher relationship was to be nurtured.. My students here in Sri Lanka would vouch for the amazing academic, Dr. Herbert has made of me.
BEST STUDENT REPRESENTATIVE
Billy epitomises what it means to holistically represent the student voice. To support his drive to make a difference, he has proactively built broad networks and connections to people across roles, functions and hierarchies in the university. He pursues ways for staff and students to create real solutions to common problems doctoral students face. Over this year, Billy has striven to represent PGRs through numerous avenues. Billy really does go above and beyond – and still manages to fit this all in amongst his PhD!
BEST STUDENT GROUP CAMPAIGN
This year Geography Society attempted to engage students in a number of ways to improve their time whilst at university, affiliate them with current events and the wider community. The society helps level one students during module enrollment, and runs exam and essay sessions. They have been on hand for 1:1 personal tutoring and expanded their academic sessions to address salient issues in society - exemplified by the organising of a ‘refugee crisis discussion’ with staff and students who’ve experienced the crisis first hand. The society has also developed its outreach connections in the community.
BEST EDUCATIONAL PROJECT OR EVENT
IMAGINE: CONNECTING COMMUNITIES THROUGH RESEARCH
This project harnessed existing skills of ordinary community members and brought them into the heart of research. This approach allowed communities to narrate their own everyday lived experience and offer their own ‘meaning making’. Through co-production, the gap that exists between communities and Universities was bridged and raised community aspirations. One of the legacies of ‘Imagine’ is that some of the community researchers went to enroll on doctoral programmes and are being mentored by the academics they were working with.
KAY GUCCIONE (RESEARCHER MENTORING & COACHING)
Kay has done more to open the eyes of PGRs to the complex and varied world of postdoctoral employment than anyone else at this university. She organises PhD graduates to come and speak to current PGRs about their current careers. She is continually conducting research on PGR employability and directly using her own findings to develop her own mentorship programmes tailored towards supporting students in gaining successful employment after university. She has single handedly changed the face of PGR career development at this university.
LAUREN BUCK (BIOMEDICAL SCIENCE)
Enjoyable. Memorable. Inspirational. These are just some of the words I would use to describe my time learning from Dr Lauren Buck. Through her incorporation of enterprising projects into the module and championing social enterprise by promoting extracurricular opportunities: such as Enactus to her students, Lauren goes above and beyond what is seen as a ‘normal lecturer. She inspires students to not just learn the given literature but to make a change, become creative and learn enterprising skills which will be of benefit in the future.
INNOVATION IN ACADEMIC SKILLS
JAMES CAIRNS (LAW)
James developed the WINS (‘Without It No Success’) module, a cross-curricular, programme-long, core module, the ‘spine’ of a major curriculum review, which provides all undergraduate law students with the discipline-specific and transferable skills needed for academic success. James’ work is of a uniformly high quality. Valuing diversity and equality is a theme of the module, and James has shown a nuanced appreciation of the differing needs of students. It is a contribution to the skills development of law students that will have a long-term benefit to attainment and career prospects and the legacy of materials and resources he has produced will continue to impact on future cohorts.
EIRINI KARAMOUZI (HISTORY)
Eirini is dedicated in giving constant, constructive feedback for her special subject and dissertation students. A huge part of her teaching style is setting personalised tasks, and providing detailed feedback which leaves you feeling more thoroughly prepared. She makes herself as readily available to her students as possible, including setting up extra office hours for her special subject group and meeting students outside her office hours when they needed feedback and support with their work. The nature of her feedback is always very well balanced; whilst she definitely always challenges you and points out where you could improve, she also always offers encouragement and validation.
BEST DIGITAL TEACHING
LUDEK KNITTL (SCHOOL OF LANGUAGES & CULTURES)
Luděk uses a variety of digital environments to provide materials for learning and give feedback on work. The most notable digital resource we use is the online Czech course he created which uses a variety of materials such as extracts from various texts, clips from tv shows, news reports and youtube videos; this range of sources makes the course engaging and inspires us to expand the variety of sources we use for independent language learning. The fact that it is free, unlike a physical textbook, means that some of the financial pressure that students experience at the beginning of the year when buying course materials is alleviated.
BEST POSTGRADUATE TEACHER
301 TUTOR TEAM (301 SKILLS & DEVELOPMENT CENTRE)
A team of seven postgraduate student tutors from different departments deliver a daily programme, drawing on their experience to bridge the gap between learners and teachers. The tutor team have made an exceptional contribution to the development of learning activities, regularly reviewing existing workshop content, and proactively suggesting improvements, indicative both of their enthusiasm for delivering high quality content, but also their ability to reflect on their teaching experiences and identify areas requiring development. The wealth of positive feedback received from students, who attribute the learning gained at these workshops as contributing to increased attainment, confidence and enjoyment of studying, demonstrates the impact the tutors have on developing skills that underpin our students’ success.
EXCELLENCE IN LEARNING & TEACHING
HOLLY LAWFORD-SMITH (PHILOSOPHY)
Holly's first year Philosophy module: Environmental Ethics, placed the ideas discussed and philosophical inquiry in a thoroughly international, and intergenerational context through questions around climate change.' The teaching of the course was dynamic as Holly encouraged and facilitated discussion with the ideas she was presenting in her lectures and also invited speakers from local social enterprises, to present their initiatives to inform the students' group project. The assessment of the module was truly innovative and geared towards engaging students in these important global issues in a way that allowed maximum participation and catered to a variety of learning styles.