We’re amongst the best for teaching and learning

For the first time this year, we were amongst a select group of UK universities to win two National Teaching Fellowships – prestigious awards that recognise excellence in teaching and support for learning.

““…there is nothing better than the satisfaction of a good learning session, where you can see that the students are engaged and motivated or where you can see that a student has had an ‘A-ha’ moment in terms of understanding something because of your teaching.” Professor Gráinne Conole,Professor of Learning Innovation

A passion for teaching and developing innovative ways of learning is a hallmark of the University of Leicester where student satisfaction annually ranks in the top 10 in the country in the National Student Survey.

The inspirational quality of excellence in teaching and learning has been recognised by the Higher Education Academy which this year announced a double award for Leicester – for
Professor Gráinne Conole who is Professor of Learning Innovation and Professor Jon Scott, of the Department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology.

Leicester is no stranger to the awards having won seven previous Fellowships from the Academy. Pro-Vice-Chancellor Christine Fyfe said: “The University of Leicester takes great pride in the success of Jon and Gráinne in winning these awards against stiff competition. In their different ways both have made outstanding contributions to the student learning experience, helping to further enhance Leicester’s position as a top-20
research-intensive institution that values excellent teaching.”

For Jon Scott, a deep commitment to enhancing the experience of the student learning journey, at all stages, characterises his approach to work. This begins well before university entry through engaging students from regional schools in practical classes and then supporting the processes of transition through a mentor scheme that is now being adopted across the whole University.

Jon has led on a range of key projects at institutional level, including retention,
assessment and feedback, use of the virtual learning environment (VLE) and academic integrity, all of which are underpinned by active contributions to current research in the areas and relate back to the commitment to enhancing the student learning experience.

Jon said: “This Award really flags up the commitment of colleagues to enhancing the student learning experience. The School of Biological Sciences has established a very strong national profile as a leader in higher education and I am particularly grateful to all my colleagues in the Pedagogical Research Group for creating such a strongly supportive environment.”

Professor Gráinne Conole has been an innovator in the use of technologies to enhance the learner experience since the nineties. This has included the creation of interactive resources, creative use of Virtual Learning Environments and the use of social and
participatory media to foster different pedagogical approaches.

She recognises how most students now juggle their student work with other commitments, including family andnwork. She said: “Most do not have the luxury of studying full time with no other commitments. Today’s students are technological immersed, they cannot
conceive of a world without computers or the internet. However despite this they may lack the necessary digital literacy skills to make effective use of technologies for academic study.

Gráinne said: “There is now a plethora of amazing technologies that can be used to support learning, but practitioners lack the necessary skills to make effective use of them. New approaches to designing for learning – one of my main research
interests – are a way of addressing this.

“Teaching and research are totally interconnected to me. E-learning is an applied research area; if it is not having a direct impact on teaching there isvno point to it. Teaching is a passion to me – there is nothing better than the satisfaction of a good learning session, where you can see that the students are engaged and motivated or where you can see that a student has had an ‘A-ha’ moment in terms of understanding something because of your teaching.

This article originally appeared in LE1 Winter 2012

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