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New award system explores students' own perspectives on what great teaching means to them

Oct 7, 2014

New award system explores students' own perspectives on what great teaching means to them

53 teachers from 27 higher education institutions receive Teaching Hero Awards determined by students

Fifty-three Teaching Heroes from twenty seven higher education institutions throughout Ireland, including two lecturers from the Institute of Technology, Tralee Mary Brosnan from the Nursing Department and John Brosnan from the Computing Department, were recognised on Tuesday evening September 30th at a special awards ceremony in Dublin Castle. The National Teaching Hero Awards were established by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education in partnership with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and other student bodies to explore and celebrate students’ perspectives of great teaching throughout all higher education institutions

Teaching Heroes were nominated by students and the fifty three national award winners were selected by local student working groups which identified up to two teaching heroes from within their institution. The identification process used in each institution was informed by guidelines that focused on merit and learning impact. 

The teaching hero award is the first of its kind in Higher education in Ireland. In the words of Prof Sarah Moore, Chair of the National Forum. “Outstanding teaching often happens quietly under the radar. With all our commitments to improvement and developing teaching and learning, these awards aim to shed more light on the kinds of teaching that students say they value most. This first iteration of the awards process showcases some great examples of teaching and will give rise to important conversations about students own perspectives on their learning.”

In the words of Prof Bairbre Redmond, Deputy chair of the National Forum; ‘By engaging in this exploration and celebration of learner impact, our students have shown us that, for them, great teachers are great due to a complex combination of factors. These include intellectual excellence, academic inspiration, emotional empathy, belief in their students’ abilities and practical support. Some teachers challenge students, showing them what they are capable of. Some teachers provide much needed support and empathy at just the right time. Some teachers are intellectual motivators, some captivating storytellers while others inspire a special kind of educational engagement during and after teaching sessions. We celebrate our teaching heroes tonight by recognising the combination of gifts and energies they bring to the learning environments for which you are responsible’.

National Forum Patron Prof Mary McAleese pointed to the importance of awards such as these in recognising the deeper societal significance of excellent teaching. “Excellence in teaching is about much more than simply getting students through their exams,” she said. “It is about inspiration, passion, generosity of spirit, and a genuine desire to make a positive difference to students’ lives.”

Laura Harmon, USI President, said: “Like everyone in this room I have great teachers to be thankful for, this is a marvellous opportunity for students all around Ireland to put that thanks on the record.”

Minister for Education & Skills Ms Jan O’Sullivan TD looked forward to the awards becoming an integral part of the teaching and education calendar. “Any celebration of excellence is worthwhile and to be welcomed but these innovative awards are doubly so in that they not only recognise marvellous teachers but give their students a voice in that process at the same time. All of us involved in the education system want to see the best outcomes for students; not just in the form of results or career paths but in terms of their overall experience and its impact on them as people. I wish to congratulate each of the 53 teachers being honoured this evening. They are all heroes.” 

A full list of the 2014 Teaching Heroes can be found by clicking on the following link: http://teachingandlearning.ie/priority-themes/2014-nominated-teaching-heroes

 

For further information please contact

National Forum for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education                                 

Joanne Coffey                                     

Tel: 086 830 3438

Email: joanne@cbcommunications.ie                                                                

Web: teachingandlearning.ie