Learning Innovation Unit, Dublin City University

Learning Innovation Unit

DCU Learning Innovation Fund (LIF) 2007/2008
President's Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning: Winners

A specific allocation is made from the Teaching and Learning Fund each year to support the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. This award recognises outstanding contributions to DCU's Teaching and Learning mission on the part of members of staff. It is intended that one award from each category will be made. Each award will consist of a formal citation, together with a prize of €10,000 for the Teaching Award and €2,500 for the award to non-teaching staff. The awards will be presented by the President at the annual Teaching and Learning Day. Candidates for the awards should be members of DCU staff who have made an outstanding contribution to DCU teaching and learning activities. The awards are open to academic and support staff, including Library, Registry, Computer Services, Education Services etc. An award may be made to a single member of staff, or to a group of staff who have been jointly involved in the particular activities being recognised.

The award winners in 2007/08 were:

Nora Brophy, School of Computing

Nora’s lectures were informative and engaging.  She organised lab exercises and tests that helped us to grasp the difficult Java language.  She provided us with excellent notes in a book format.  The fact that she set interesting lab questions and also assessments really helped our class to learn a lot.  Ms Brophy was patient in her answers to questions.  You were never made feel inept if you didn’t get it on the first response.  She is very supportive and always available to help.

Michael Tyrell, School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering

Michael encounters students from first year to taught masters level in his range of support for students.  This level and depth of support is beyond that normally provided where a technician would concentrate on just two laboratory areas.  Michael also supports final year projects and taught masters based projects.  The exceptional aspect of Michael’s support to these undergraduate and postgraduate projects is his ability to direct the students focusto the aspect of the theory that is important or that they are missing. 

Academic nominees in 2007/08 are as follows:

Abdul Ghani Olabi, School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering

Dr. Olabi has a very interesting teaching style that makes a lecture ……very exciting.  He continuously interacts with students during his lectures.  He is always very well prepared and pays a lot of attention to how to explain problems that will allow students to better understand.  His friendly attitude allows students to approach him without any hesitation.

Bipin Kumar, School of Computing

His teaching method is interactive, he knows the latest available techniques and pays attention to every student. He is always available for any problem in the class and even after it.  He takes a lot of care to make his very difficult subject simple and easy to understand for everyone in the class. We are really impressed with him!

Caroline McMullan, DCU Business School

Caroline has a passion for the broad area of risk management and in particular the emerging field of emergency management.  Her enthusiasm for learning and developing new theory in emergency management has carried through to the students.  She has succeeded in bringing the subject to life and has created within the class a desire to learn more and to develop our thinking. We believe she has been truly inspirational and we always look forward to her classes.

Gillian McMahon, School of Chemical Sciences

Dr. McMahon approaches every lecture, not only with professionalism but with enthusiasm and deep knowledge of her subjects.  She is extremely dedicated to teaching her students and hence is one of those lecturers who have the gift of being able to not only teach well but really enthuse the students about chemistry, which is not an easy thing!   In short, it was hard not to learn in Dr. McMahon’s lectures.

Iain McMenamin, School of Law and Government

Some of the key attributes which makes Iain an excellent teacher are in fact personal ones: approachability, modesty, ability to listen, and the appropriate use of humour and irony.  He has an ability to clarify and demystify topics which might otherwise be difficult or intimidating. He puts students at ease by creating a ‘safe environment’ for expressing ideas, thinking aloud in class, and crediting students with the experience and knowledge they bring to the course.

Ray Walshe, School of Computing

Ray has an open interactive teaching approach.  He tries to engage students in lectures and invites student participation.  Although he has often taught large classes (up to 300 students) he has endeavoured to ensure that all students remain interested thought making extensive use of technology.  Ray has given extra catch-up tutorials for students who are struggling with the material during the semester and is genuinely interested in helping students progress through the course. 

Regina Connolly, DCU Business School

Regina has a way of making a subject which is difficult very interesting and understandable.  I never thought that I would like issues to do with technical security and e-business but her style of teaching made the whole course interesting.  I feel she should be applauded for organising the eBusiness simulation which was probably one of the best things we did on the programme.  She has a way of giving confidence without making you feel bad that you didn’t understand or get it the first time.

Sarah Ingle, DCU Business School

Sarah was always understanding of our student needs and requirements not only in the lecture room but more importantly outside it.  She engaged the class so much that there were regular conversations between the students and the lecturer.  Feedback is an important part of our module as it is assignment-based and Sarah gave constant feedback and freely available to meet anytime.  When we did meet her we knew that she had researched our specific questions in detail and had helpful answers ready with a lot of guidance.

Sheamus Sweeney, School of Communications

I was in his Social History and TV Drama class and he kept us engaged and involved. The lessons were so well constructed and we all felt as a group that the module was moving along wonderfully.  I actually didn’t mind getting up early on a Friday morning to attend!  He was able to provide the information we needed in a way which was relatable, often using humour to make the class feel more informal and relaxed. I left with a new respect for drama and a new level of what I expected from a quality drama. 

Tom Brady, School of Mathematical Sciences

He uses extremely well organised notes on a projector, which can be downloaded from Moodle.  He also gives many worked examples on the white board.  Class tests are held every two weeks: the requirements are clear and the results are promptly returned after the weekend.  Extra questions for practice are posted on Moodle.  Questions can be asked by e-mail and a reply is always given.  If a student needs a topic clarified it can be done after class.  He is very available to students. 

Teaching Support nominees in 2007/08 are as follows:

Philip Smyth, School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering

Philip has shown enthusiasm and dedication to developing resources which will improve the learning environment for students.  During the last three years Philip has successfully implemented a new method of presenting laboratories to students which has been shown to provide statistically significant improvements in the average result of students. Philip has a personable character which aided his work with the academic and technical staff to implement these new laboratory presentation methods.

Bernadette McCullough, Dublin Business School

Bernadette is Head of Operations at the Centre for Executive Programmes at DCU Business School. She leads an extremely dedicated and helpful group of administrators. Both Bernadette and her team are unfailingly helpful and often work out of hours to support teaching staff on various programmes.  Nothing is ever too much trouble and they are extremely customer focused and professional in approach.  Bernadette delivers beyond expectations time and time again with a minimum of fuss. 

Colm O’Reilly, Irish Centre for Talented Youth (CTYI)

As head of the Irish Centre for Talented Youth, Colm is responsible for the special education of over 2000 gifted and talented students every year, the vast majority of whom pass through the corridors of DCU.  Concerned for not only the academic development of these youngsters, Colm is keenly aware of their social needs and takes great care to ensure that this forms an integral part of the programme.  From the moment the students enter the campus to the time they leave he carefully advises his staff so that the social and academic development of all students are thoroughly met.  This mentality helps to create a tremendously positive environment where young people can flourish on both fronts, and this is clearly evidenced in the exceptionally high return rates.

Valerie Davitt, Education Services

Valerie has provided a most reliable technical support service over the three years the psycho-oncology module has been video linked to two other destinations. Valerie always made herself easily contactable, as well as being consistently available, supportive, courteous and helpful. Consequently, the project was a pleasure for everyone – the lecturers and the students in both DCU and the recipient locations.