Hallam academic wins national teaching award

A Sheffield Hallam University lecturer has been named the Higher Education Teacher of the Year 2019 by the Royal Society of Biology.

Dr David Smith, course leader for MSc molecular and cellular biology was announced as the winner of the award at the inaugural annual Heads of University Biosciences (HUBS) event.

The Teacher of the Year award, sponsored by Oxford University Press, recognises leading educators in UK universities, highlighting the role they play in teaching and inspiring the next generation of bioscientists. 

Dr Smith received the award in recognition of his enthusiasm and commitment to improving education practice, alongside his research into improving student engagement.

Speaking about receiving the award, Dr Smith, said: “The Royal Society of Biology provides a wealth of resources for teaching, so to have my teaching practice recognised and celebrated by them is wonderful.

“Pulling together my case study of learning and teaching practices has been a highly motivating experience. To hear from peers and students about how my ideas around student-lecturer interactions have impacted on the learning experience and been used to increase inclusion has been fantastic.”

Dr Smith’s award nomination case study outlined his research into the relationship between where students sit in the lecture theatre and their levels of engagement.

His research found that students will tend to sit in friendship groups during lectures, and will go on to obtain similar marks in assessments. In his case study, Dr Smith suggested a number of measures to encourage student dialogue and improve academic growth.

Dr Sandra Kirk, the Chair of HUBS and head of the award panel, said: “David Smith fully embodies the ethos of the award; demonstrating enthusiasm, commitment to practice based on pedagogic theory and care and thought for the student experience.

“His findings in respect of practices to improve student engagement are of relevance across the whole of higher education, not just the biosciences.

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