15 March 2018: Professor Bob Norman: n pursuit of teaching excellence in higher education: what does ‘outstanding’ look like?

Posted by dmrbp1 at Jan 04, 2018 11:20 AM |
Part of the College of Life Sciences Inaugural Lecture series

Professor Bob Norman gave his inaugural lecture on 15 March, titled:

In pursuit of teaching excellence in higher education: what does ‘outstanding’ look like?


Over recent years, the introduction of student tuition fees, the National Student Survey and the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework have raised the question for different stakeholders of how teaching excellence in higher education might be recognised. While taking a journey through Bob’s research and educational career, this lecture explored how different student, parent, academic, institutional and government expectations of teaching excellence are being held in balance.


Bob graduated from the University of Leicester with a BSc in Biological Sciences in 1978. He went on to Imperial College, London, where he was awarded a PhD in 1981 for his work on the molecular characterisation of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor from chicken brain. He then moved to the Université de Nice, France, as a Fellow of the European Molecular Biology Organisation, to work on the molecular characterisation of a variety of cation channel proteins. He returned to Leicester in 1983 and joined the staff of the Department of Biochemistry as a Temporary Lecturer, before being appointed to a tenured Lectureship in Medical Biochemistry in the Department of Medicine in 1984. Here Bob continued his work on the molecular characterisation of cation channels, particularly in cardiac and vascular tissues, and developed research interests in the molecular mechanisms underlying hypertension, anaesthesia, urinary incontinence and ischaemic cardioprotection. Bob was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1995 and between 2007 and 2011, was Deputy Head in the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences. Throughout this time Bob maintained a passion for teaching, contributing to cell physiology teaching across a range of modules in the undergraduate Medicine (MBChB) and Biological Sciences BSc programmes. He was also a committed supporter of students taking research degrees at undergraduate and PhD levels. Bob was influential in the establishment of the graduate-entry medical curriculum in the Leicester-Warwick Medical School, including the launch of the first virtual learning environment in both universities to support cross-site teaching, and led the transformation from modular to integrated, clinical scenario-based assessments in both Schools.

Bob accepted the invitation to transfer to the department of Medical and Social Care Education in 2011, where he became Director of the Research and Scholarship Unit and, as Quality Lead for the MBChB programmes, led on the implementation of a new governance structure for these programmes. Here Bob has refocused his research interests and has published on the pedagogy of the use of intended learning outcomes by students and staff, student mental health at medical school, teaching provision by secondary care providers and medical student professionalism in UK and Saudi contexts.

In 2014, Bob was appointed as College Academic Director and now leads on strategy on all matters relating to undergraduate and postgraduate students and the delivery of teaching across the three Schools in the College of Life Sciences. In addition, with colleagues in the other Colleges, he leads advancements in learning and teaching throughout the University. In particular, Bob has had oversight of the transformation of all undergraduate curricula in the College of Life Sciences, the development of new programmes in Physiotherapy, Nursing with Leadership and Midwifery with Leadership and international projects to establish joint Medical School initiatives in the USA and China. For 17 years Bob has also chaired the Council of the Chaplaincy to the University of Leicester, through which he has influenced student pastoral support and spiritual provision for students of all faiths and none across the University.

Bob has been a Registered Practitioner/Fellow of the Higher Education Academy since 2002 and became a Principle Fellow of the HEA in 2016. His other distinctions include a University of Leicester Teaching Fellowship in 2006, Students’ Union Academic of the Year in 2009/2010 and Students’ Union Superstar Award in 2015. With Dr David Lodwick, Bob also received the Richard Asher Prize from the Society of Authors/Royal Society of Medicine for their textbook ‘Flesh and Bones of Medical Cell Biology’. In his professorship, Bob will continue to champion the development of and recognition for learning and teaching across the University of Leicester.

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