Queen Mary University of London: Queen Mary announces winners of Education Excellence Awards

This was the fourth year in which the awards have been held and there were almost 50 nominations received. For the first time, the awards recognised staff based outside of the University’s three Faculties, following a year in which the entire Queen Mary community worked tirelessly to make a difference.

The ceremony saw Professor Colin Bailey, President and Principal, and Professor Stephanie Marshall, Vice-Principal (Education) highlight our staff’s significant efforts furthering the commitments to excellence in education and the student experience.

The challenges brought on by Covid-19 introduced the need for imaginative solutions in delivering education – which Queen Mary staff met superbly. For example, Queen Mary’s development and delivering of mixed-mode education enabled a seamless educational experience in the face of disruption and attracted much interest from outside the University. The work over the last year has also helped Queen Mary make significant strides towards meeting the ambitious targets set in its 2030 Strategy.

Professor Colin Bailey, President and Principal, Queen Mary University of London, said: “I would like to congratulate everyone who was nominated for an award tonight. Everyone who has been nominated is working hard to deliver excellence in education, which made the task of choosing this year’s recipients as difficult as ever.

“I am proud to see so many excellent examples of Queen Mary’s commitment to providing the very best for its students. We are fortunate to have such passionate and talented staff, without whom none of this would be achievable.”

Stephanie Marshall, Vice-Principal (Education) at Queen Mary University of London said: “Once again there were an incredibly strong set of nominations this year.

“It was pleasing to see so many outstanding contributions that further our reputation as an educationally excellent and innovative institution. Our staff have, as ever, gone the extra mile to provide students with a superb learning environment and make Queen Mary a better place, for which we are extremely grateful. Everyone at the University congratulates those we are celebrating tonight.”

Education Excellence Awards winners

Humanities and Social Sciences

Josef Mueller and Dr Eli Vilar

This award is for the Queen Mary Language Practice Scheme, which enables students and staff at Queen Mary to book 30-minute sessions, for free, with volunteer native speakers of a language they are learning and practise their speaking skills. Currently, 16 different languages are offered, many of them not formally taught at Queen Mary. 76 volunteers from across the University have signed up since the scheme opened in March this year, and nearly 300 sessions have been booked by learners.

Dr Isobel Roele

This award recognises the design and delivery of The Art of Law module, which looks at the relationships between law and legal institutions and the visual arts. It culminated in a public exhibition, staged in-person in the School of Law and online on a student-designed website: The Art of Law: Reimagining Justice. The exhibition is a reminder of the transformational power of imagination and creativity and visual evidence of the institution’s commitment to inclusion and diversity.

Dr Manolis Noikokyris

This award is presented to a colleague who, since taking on the role of Senior Tutor in their School last year, has been pivotal to work on ensuring an engaging and inclusive experience for the School’s diverse student body. He has led a peer-led team learning (PLTL) pilot in their School, and developed a Student Teaching Lab, which will explore students’ learning needs with the aim of identifying methods and techniques that students perceive will enhance their learning.

Richa Dave

This award is for a colleague who has worked with central teams, academics and students to ensure that her School’s January-start programmes have been a success, whilst simultaneously ensuring that the September cohort had the same level of support during the introduction of mixed mode delivery. She has become the first port of call for both staff and students in the School with queries about MME.

Science and Engineering

Dr Nathan Emery

This award is for the development of an innovative gamification approach. By creating a fictional world with a unique story, characters and geography, students can access a learning environment supporting novelty, diversity and variety in the coursework tasks whilst making the material relevant. This module provides a model for how learning can be both fun and engaging without affecting the importance of the basic content.

Dr Usman Naeem

This award is for a colleague who formulated an approach to track student engagement, provide learning support and assess weekly tasks. This interactive approach not only facilitated student support queries, but also allowed the module team to get a holistic view of the topics that learners were struggling with in the lab sessions. This approach will be shared at the IEEE EDUCON conference.

Dr Rifca Le Dieu (Joint Science and Engineering and Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry award)

This award is for a colleague who is based in the Bart’s Cancer Institute for teaching on the Biomedical Sciences programme in the School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences. The Award is supported by both Faculties for the interactive teaching and the redesign of the practical components. Students taking these modules have praised the organisation and delivery of the modules. The award recognises the student-centred approach and excellence in cross-Faculty educational delivery.

Dr Radomir Slavchov and Dr Paul Balcombe

This award recognises two colleagues who have developed an innovative approach to teaching process simulation and unit modelling to chemical engineering undergraduates, enhancing education by industrially-relevant expertise. They have integrated simulation and computer algebra learning across several modules in each year, developing a world-class online learning environment with an inverted classroom approach.

Professor Julia Shelton

This award recognises Julia for her leadership of the School’s programme review. This has required strategic vision and an exceptional volume of work. She has worked with academics and professional services staff from across the School to take the currently disparate educational programmes and craft a shared vision and direction that aligns with Strategy 2030, whilst also working with e-learning colleagues to develop an entirely new reflective log framework for students to support and guide their learning.

Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Dr Esther Murray, Dr Nandini Hayes and Dr Jennifer Randall

This award is for a team who have introduced Wednesday Wellbeing Zoom meetings in order to embed wellbeing and self-care into the MBBS programme from the beginning. These regular sessions allow students to take time away from a very busy timetable to reflect on the past week and discuss concerns that they have, which can be explored as they arise.

Dr Abimbola Giwa

This award recognises the introduction of an innovative method of assessing the major sub-disciplines using nine bespoke subject specific online assignments. This was a new approach which had never been used to assess any year programmes for academic progression in the Institute. The approach has received positive feedback from students, colleagues and external examiners. It has now been adopted as part of the Institute’s assessment strategy.

Dr Nandini Hayes, Dr Jennifer Randall, Dr Alistair Morey

This award is for a team who developed the SMD Summer Stepping Stones Programme, which was brought together with the University’s Get Ahead programme. The four-week online programme included a mix of academic content with opportunities for students to explore their learning journeys into higher education.

Dr Sharan Sidhu

Sharan has been the Staff Adviser to WISE@QMUL, a PhD student-led group for Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) at Queen Mary since 2013. In that role, she has worked with WISE@QMUL members in co-creating ideas to improve their experience, learning environment and graduate-level employability, as well as organising and facilitating events and securing funding to introduce activities.

Professional Services

Paula Funnell

Paula has developed innovative pedagogical approaches, tools and technologies to enhance the student learning experience for the teaching of information literacy. She has developed a new approach, focusing more on asynchronous learning, blended learning and flipped teaching, to maximise time spent in live online sessions.

Danielle Thibodeau

Danielle has been the face of MME for hundreds of staff, supporting them through training and communicating and consulting with them through surveys and feedback sessions. This has included devising training sessions for educators across the University, delivering training – both ‘generic’ bookable sessions and bespoke training for individual schools and institutes, and producing surveys for staff and students on their experience of MME.

President and Principal’s Prize winners

QM Social Venture Fund

This award recognises the first real-life social impact venture fund in the UK. The approach is designed to create an authentic learning experience where complex, ‘higher’ knowledge comes to life through application, providing students with guided experience in learning through solving complex, real-world problems. The programme has reached over 100 social ventures in the past year, and the approach has been presented at a conference and in the media.

Dr Ishani Chandrasekara

This award recognises the work of a Programme Director to design, develop and launch a new inclusive curriculum; to develop new programmes in partnership with industry and employers; secure funding for and introduce new bursaries and scholarships; and to advance gender equality through events and external collaborations. Their approach has identified and removed barriers to higher education and to prestigious careers, particularly targeted at Queen Mary’s local community.

Economics Master’s Apprenticeship Programme (EMAP)

This award is for a team of both academic and professional services, who have won the tender for the Senior Professional Economist Apprenticeship in July 2020 and developed a Level 7 apprenticeship programme with over 100 learners in each cohort. The curriculum is co-created with employers, and the programme is implementing new pedagogical design and embedding technological advances to engage and be inclusive to the needs of this unique group of students.

Practical Chemistry Team

This award recognises a team who have introduced an innovative, novel and sector-leading approach to the delivery of practical chemistry. They have identified and utilised two platforms, including the Microsoft HoloLens2 mixed reality technology, during the 2020/21 academic year to offer online-labs, simulations, videos and worksheets to support in class provision, and which would allow international students or those unable to attend campus to still participate fully.

Dr Paul Balcombe

This award recognises a colleague who created a new Advanced Safety Engineering module, aiming to embed industrial engagement throughout, enhancing the learning experience, increasing student employability and improving the visibility of the programme nationally. Paul has created a strong relationship between students and industry, conducting project-based learning around important historical safety incidents. Feedback from students has been exemplary and has resulted in graduate employment in the field of safety engineering.

MSc in Physician Associate Studies Faculty and Administrators – led by Dr Arunthathi Mahendran

This award recognises an innovative MSc programme, which has been developed, taught and delivered by a trailblazing group of talented part-time clinical and non-clinical educators and dedicated administrators. They have collaborated to produce a highly successful healthcare practitioner course. Since the programme’s inception, the team have combatted outdated notions in both academic and clinical environments around access to special medical knowledge/skills, the design and delivery of clinical training and who can provide patient care.

Dr Andrew Durham

This award recognises the design, development and implementation of a new final year project module ‘Engaging the public with science’ for students within the SBBS and shared SMD/SBBS programmes. This module provides students with the opportunity to co-create, develop and run actual public engagement programmes which have had positive impact on the local and wider community. Andrew has developed partnerships and collaborations within Queen Mary and external partners to provide students with excellent placements and supervisors that have a positive impact on their education and engagement.