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Aspire Excellence Award winners announced

Posted 20 September

Recognition and thanks are due to all nominees, who undoubtedly help maintain and continually strengthen the student experience.

Every year Harper Adams University recognises excellent practice by asking staff and students to make nominations for an Aspire Excellence Award. On Friday 13th September the winners were announced.

The awards panel, comprising the Director of Learning and Teaching, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Head of Educational Development and Quality Enhancement, Educational Developer, President of the Students’ Union, and the Students’ Union Academic Representative, convened to consider more than 140 nominations.

Dr Lydia Arnold, Educational Developer, said: “The quality of the nominations for these awards was fantastic. Recognition and thanks are due to all nominees, who undoubtedly help maintain and continually strengthen the student experience.”

Awards were presented at a celebratory lunch at the annual Harper Adams University Learning and Teaching Conference, now in its fifth year. This year, speakers included: Dr Edd Pitt, Senior Lecturer Higher Education & Academic Practice, University of Kent; Dr Naomi Winstone, Head of the Department of Higher Education, University of Surrey; Suzanne Faulkner, Teaching Fellow University of Strathclyde, and Wendy Garnham, Senior Lecturer(Psychology). University of Sussex.

The 2019 award winners, are as follows, with citations.

Ourania Tremma - Teaching Excellence Award

Ourania received five nominations and was recognised for her patience, availability and her ability to help students working through conceptual difficulties. It’s clear from her nomination that she puts the needs of individual students at the forefront of her approaches to support.  Her students described her as ‘an absolute asset’ and believe that Ourania really cares about them and wants them to succeed.

Helen Morrell - Teaching Excellence Award

Helen was nominated in three different award categories and is described by her students as someone who ‘goes above and beyond’ and who is ‘always enthusiastic’. Students appreciate the engaging online material that Helen creates and the wide range of methods used to engage students. Helen’s kindness to students was described as ‘outstanding’ and students see her as emotionally supportive and caring. Her students say ‘she pushes us to do better’ and ‘tells us that she is proud when we accomplish something’.

Holly Simpson - Teaching Excellence Award

Holly’s students see her as ‘totally supportive’ and appreciate that she gets to know them individually. Students appreciate Holly’s way of teaching and how it relates to the ‘real world’. Holly has built up her student’s confidence with practical aspects of the Veterinary Physiotherapy course in which she is a clinical educator and always adds a dose of humour. She has built her student’s confidence, especially in practical aspects of the course, and always she encourages everyone.   

Jonathon Wooldridge: Wide Student Experience Award

Engineering Technician Jonathan has been recognised for the huge difference he makes to engineering students as well as Student Union clubs. He works hard to ensure students have a range of extra-curricular activities and practical opportunities such as the Harper Adams Motorsport Club and the Off Road Club. He is known to be innovative in the resources that he creates to support student learning - his nominees particularly cite suspension systems that he configured to enable a students to showcase their skills to employers. He is ‘supportive’ and works ‘beyond remit’ to enable students to ‘raise quality standards every day’; he is seen as positive and totally student focussed.

Emma White: Wide Student Experience

Students see Emma as going the extra mile in order to support them inside and outside of the classroom. She is personable and tries to build good relationships from the start. She arranges trips and activities for her students to support the curriculum and to help the course group to get to know each other. Students particularly valued an early shopping trip to IKEA as they settled in to their on accommodation and a trip to the Guide Dog Centre to gain a better understanding of animal training approaches. Emma ‘goes above and beyond what is expected of a course tutor to make university life better’.

Unsung Heroes Award: The Porters Team

The porters had three nominations which all described a tremendously helpful team, where nothing is too much trouble. They work ‘seamlessly in the background’ and they are ‘always willing to help no matter how busy they are, very helpful and efficient’. The porters are shown to be always quick to resolve issues and to meet the needs of staff and students, all with a smile and a joke. It’s absolutely clear from the nominations that the cheerful disposition and can-do approach of the team makes a significant difference to the work of the university.

Student Choice Award (for Engaging Teaching): Emma Tappin

According to her nomination ‘Emma is really engaged and dedicated to bringing a different, practical style of learning that ensures students get involved and experience and gain skills that will benefit students both on placement and in their wider career’. Emma leads a project module which is rich in real world experience, and which develops students as they engage in creative problem solving and project management. Her students can’t praise her enough – highlighting her dedication, passion, skill, knowledge, ingenuity and her hard work.  Emma is also praised for ensuring that all students can get involved in her module and she adjusts her style and resources to ensure that everyone can get the most out of their experience.

Feedback Hero: Pippa Bond

Pippa is always approachable and accessible. She meets with students to provide hints and tips for future assignments and students cite her feedback conversations as key to building their passion for specific topics. Her written feedback is also well regarded with ‘clear, precise and understandable’ comments. Students really valued Pippa’s personalised feedback – she took account of their experience, strengths and challenges, when formulating advice. They noticed that Pippa’s feedback wasn’t just information – she asked probing questions that allowed them to identify for themselves what they should do to improve. One of her nominations says: ‘Pippa was very approachable and kind, and made me feel clever and pointed out the good points as well as the bits that needed improving. I was actually excited to meet with Pippa again to show her how much I had improved my assignment … this has made a huge impact on my confidence levels with my academic writing’.

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