Introducing the UCEM Teaching Excellence Awards: What are they and who were the inaugural winners?

UCEM is committed to academic excellence and recruits experts from industry and academia to ensure students have the very best chance of passing their degrees and pursuing fulfilling careers within the Built Environment.

To formally recognise the outstanding efforts of our academic staff, Academic Programme Support Tutor, Sarah Brennan, along with the Head of Learning & Teaching Enhancement, Phil Russell, and Quality and Enhancement Officer, Kate Reed, organised the first ever UCEM Teaching Excellence Awards earlier this summer.

Launched at the beginning of May, students and staff alike were encouraged to nominate individuals who have excelled in the delivery of their teaching.

At the end of May the votes were counted, the nominations were considered by a specially selected Awards Panel and the award winners were announced during an all-staff meeting in June.

Here, we take a closer look at the awards and pick out some of the feedback which supported the nominations for the award-winners.

What awards were there?

In all, students and staff were invited to nominate in three categories: Innovation in Learning and Teaching; Recognition of Excellence; and Outstanding Support for the Learning Experience of Students.

The original intention was to name a winner and runner-up in each category but such was the volume of votes – with 563 nominations in total – and accompanying supporting statements that this was extended to two runners-up per category and a new award – the Rising Star Award – was created.

In total, 82 members of staff were nominated for an award with 39 of that number nominated in a single category and the other 43 nominated for more than one award.

Who won?

The winner of the Innovation in Learning and Teaching Award was Real Estate Tutor, Natasha Collins – herself a former UCEM student.

Innovation in Learning and Teaching Award winner, Natasha Collins, receives her certificate from UCEM Principal, Ashley Wheaton

Among the comments made about Natasha were:

– ‘Natasha used technology to provide webinars and open module chats. This was particularly helpful with revision because students shared their experience that helped those without… Natasha was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about everything covered in the module which made it very interesting and enjoyable. She was very supportive and one of the best tutors I’ve had with UCEM.’

– ‘Natasha’s style of teaching is excellent. She goes above and beyond to ensure that all students get the most out of the module. Natasha’s teaching style ensure students who are time constraint [sic] can still learn the full content.’

– ‘Her enthusiasm, support and engaging tutoring method which she adapted to reach both novices and experienced students of her subject. Her open chats were structured, responsive and encouraged your learning thought processes. Her general spirit and approach was truly inspiring.’

Runners-up in this category were Law Tutor, Louise Ainley, and Construction Tutor, Gordon Browne, with relevant comments including ‘Excellent delivery of module with many types of media to suit every learning style’ and ‘Demonstrates creativity in breaking down complex concepts into simple, easier to learn ways through short videos’, respectively.

In addition to the runner-up accolade mentioned above, Gordon Browne scooped the Recognition of Excellence Award.

Recognition of Excellence Award winner, Gordon Browne, with Ashley Wheaton

Among the comments supporting his award win were:

– ‘He is an excellent tutor who also genuinely cares about his students and their success.  He goes the extra mile to do interviews with senior management personnel in the industry to bring life to the taught theory.  He’s sensitive about feedback only because he wants to make sure he’s doing a great job which he absolutely has been. 100 % for GB.’

– ‘The way he teaches makes me interested in the subject and really motivates me to have the urge to know more and learn.  The interview videos are very helpful in learning about what’s happening in real life.’

– ‘Gordon taught a very interesting subject, but it [was made] even more interesting by sharing new innovative construction ideas.  The platforms he used to teach us was innovative – interviews, videos, demonstrations, his webinars were captivating.  The support he provided as a tutor was brilliant as well.’

Runners up in the ‘Recognition of Excellence’ category were Louise Ainley (once again) and the BSc (Hons) Building Surveying Programme Leader, Jane Ballantyne.

Among the many nominations for Louise was the following supporting statement: ‘Incredible teacher, ensures that everyone understands, always there to help, always trying to develop new ways of teaching. She is such a credit to UCEM and a true specialist within law’.

One of the comments in support of a nomination for Jane was ‘Jane is fantastic at explaining clearly, her support was outstanding and [she] has made my experience with UCEM’.

Scooping the Outstanding Support for the Learning Experience of Students Award was Real Estate Tutor, Janet Hontoir.

Outstanding Support for the Learning Experience of Students Award winner, Janet Hontoir, with Ashley Wheaton

Of Janet, it was said:

– ‘Janet was on the phone offering support from the first day of my portfolio module. Feedback was always almost instant and I felt like she really cared about the module and her students doing well. Janet was constantly in touch and went well above and beyond the support I was expecting…’

– ‘She went above and beyond my expectations, so supportive and always available whenever contacted. Janet truly enhanced my distance learning experience, she wholeheartedly deserves to win this award – there is no one else more deserving than Janet.’

– ‘Without Janet I would not have completed my portfolio of workplace learning last semester, she was always available by phone and email, even in the evenings and weekends to chat and give advice. Janet goes above and beyond the call of duty to support her students, she is patient and knowledgeable, I couldn’t have asked for better help and support with my portfolio last semester. Thank you Janet’.

Runners-up in this category were Law Tutor, Rose Chetwood, and Real Estate Tutor, Jan Wilcox. One of the comments about Rose was: ‘Rose’s efforts go way beyond basic standards, she put on additional webinars for help with the assignment, provided useful checklists and always appears to go the extra mile to help students do well’.

One student’s nomination for Jan read: ‘Jan provides excellent support to her tutor group. She is always very active on the forums providing useful coaching and advice and making sure everyone is okay. She has definitely made a difference to my experience of UCEM so far. With the course being online it really made a difference to have such an amazing tutor’.

Finally, the Rising Star Award went to Apprenticeship Construction and Surveying Tutor, Andy Dodson. This additional award recognised the sterling efforts of a UCEM staff member who has made a massive difference to the learning experience of students, having only been employed by UCEM for a short amount of time (12-18 months).

Rising Star Award winner, Andy Dodson, with Ashley Wheaton

Among the comments made about Andy were:

– ‘Andy runs exceptional webinars to facilitate the knowledge and understanding of the apprentices, he uses anecdotes outside of the course material to give a greater depth to the information contained within the VLE and always tries to find a way to connect with the student to make sure they understand what is required of this for the ePortfolio activities’.

– ‘…he is an exemplary teacher that performs his job with up most [sic] respect and to the top of his ability every time I have had the pleasure of being in his class. I am proud to call him my teacher.’

– ‘Andy has a huge passion for teaching despite being fairly new to it, he is taking his teaching qualification with vigour and he uses different modes of teaching to help the L3 apprentices learn in context, including climbing around in the roof of BRE building.’

Did they win anything?

The winners of the three main awards were given £100 and runners-up and Andy Dodson were given £50 as recognition of the fantastic work they are doing.

They were also invited to a congratulatory lunch with UCEM Principal, Ashley Wheaton, and Deputy Principal, Jane Fawkes, where they were presented with certificates. There was also a champagne toast and Ashley delivered a short speech praising their efforts.

What next?

The UCEM Teaching Excellence Awards are due to take place on an annual basis with details to be confirmed at a later date.

At UCEM, we are committed to contributing to a better Built Environment sector through excellence in online education. We deliver accredited apprenticeship programmes, as well as undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. For more information, take a look at our Study With UCEM page.

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