ALDinHE Annual Awards 2023

This page celebrates and publicises exceptional work taking place within the learning development community, highlighted through the ALDinHE Annual Awards nominations. Here you can read about the nominees’ work from the 2023 awards.

2023 Nominations

Laura Key, Leeds Beckett University, nominated by Amber Edwards:

Laura’s current role as Academic Skills Tutor involves coordinating the Library Academic Support Team’s in-curriculum instruction, ensuring university-wide support is progressive and tailored to individual cohort needs, as well as delivering academic skills workshops, one-to-one support and developing online materials for independent study. In particular, she chairs the team teaching group which directs the practice of c.25 colleagues in delivering c.500 bespoke classes per year, as well as supporting colleagues in developing their pedagogical and wider professional practice. Laura’s drive for providing effective academic skills support extends beyond the library team and she works on multiple collaborative projects around the university to develop academic skills resources. The most notable example includes working with academic colleagues and the university’s Centre for Learning and Teaching to create a tool called ‘Essay X-Ray’ which allows students to construct their first essay using model sentences to build skeleton paragraphs. The existence of a reputable in-house text generation tool positioned the university well to respond to the challenges of emerging technologies like Chat GPT. Laura is also passionate about raising teaching standards and empowering independent learning more generally. She consequently engages with learning development networks extensively, acting as co-lead for the ALDinHE LearnHigher working group, providing a platform for practitioners to share learning development resources. She has presented at the ALDinHE conference and subsequently published a paper in the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education on developing an Academic Skills Workshop Programme. She also mentors colleagues in her capacity as a critical friend to those applying for AdvanceHE professional accreditation and reviews content for LILAC. The impact of her efforts across the sector are illustrated by the new role she will shortly be undertaking in the Teaching & Learning unit at York St John University.

Senthila Quirke, Brunel University London, nominated by Masoud Shahmanzari: 

Senthi has taught, trained and mentored Master’s students, Doctoral Researchers, early-career academics and experienced lecturers over the past 14 years in UK Higher Education. She is passionate about her role and goes the extra mile to ensure that everyone can succeed and thrive in an inclusive environment (Value 1). In her current role of 3 years, as a Senior Lecturer in Academic Development, she has supported over 50 Doctoral Researchers with gaining teaching opportunities, delivered pedagogic skills training and facilitated them to achieve the Advance HE Associate Fellowship. She has also supported these researchers with securing permanent roles on completion of their PhDs, both in Brunel and abroad. She has trained over 20 new academics and led them to succeed via the Academic Apprenticeship Programme to gain Advance HE Fellowship. She offers her time, expertise and feedback in a friendly and inspiring manner. She works closely with the EDI team to ensure necessary policies are embedded to reflect the needs of the Brunel community (Value 2); her recent initiative focuses on supporting those with non-visible disabilities. She often volunteers her time to support students and colleagues via coaching and mentoring as well as through motivational speaking at the Springboard programme and at external charitable activities. She strongly believes that to develop others, one must constantly develop themselves which she is always involved in – from completing CPD courses to finishing an evening Master’s degree to setting up training for a university in Japan and being part of the academic board for Dyson. She brings back these experiences to supporting others and strengthening her team (Values 3,4&5). She is an Advance HE Senior Fellow and has won the Student-Led Teaching Awards, Ken Darby-Dowman Memorial Prize (2012/13) and recently shortlisted for the Outstanding Feedback category of the Brunel Student Union Awards.

Senthila Quirke, Brunel University London, nominated by Mike Gorbounov:

My name is Mike Gorbounov and I would like to nominate Senthila Quirke for the ALDinHE Annual Award as I believe that her hard work, dedication and achievements make her a perfect candidate for this recognition. Senthi is the person, who launched and is currently leading the Higher Education Teaching and Learning (HETL) programme at Brunel University London. This programme has been available now for over 3 years and has enabled PhD students like me to gain valuable teaching qualifications and Advance HE recognitions that could propagate our academic careers. Senthi has greatly helped me on my way to receiving the Associate Fellow degree of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA). Her support throughout this journey entailed consultations on the portfolio, valuable feedback from her teaching observations (with her accurate and on-point comments facilitating my great improvements of my teaching skills) and plethora of other aspects that cannot fit into the outlined word limit. I know that I am not the only person at Brunel University London who admire her high work ethics and exceptional teaching standards as I have had many conversations with my peers whom she has also helped to improve their teaching skills and receive the AFHEA status. Finally, Senthi is also a lecturer in the College of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences at Brunel University London, hence anecdotes about her teaching and student support cannot go unmentioned. She is an inspiration for those of us, who are aiming to continue in academia. In fact, my future goals of attaining the Senior Fellowship status are derived to a large extent from observing Senthi, her work and her continued efforts to develop and empower all students and colleagues. I wholeheartedly nominate Senthila Quirke for the ALDinHE 2023 Award.  

William Kay, Cardiff University, nominated by Stephen Rutherford:

Statistics learning is extremely challenging for Bioscience students. The major barrier is ‘maths anxiety’, and general lack of confidence. Will Kay has been transformative in supporting students in maths, experimental design, and statistics over the last 18 months. Will has a remarkable passion and skill for statistics education, and an ability to make statistics not only understandable, but enjoyable. Colleagues have commented they hadn’t seen such positive feedback from students about anything: e.g. “Will is by far the best statistics teacher I’ve ever had! He was very clear and took the time to address individual questions. His love for teaching shone through which made a huge difference to my understanding and enjoyment of the course.” Will has been instrumental in evaluating, redesigning, and implementing a remodelled statistics curriculum, receiving impressive, unprecedented metrics on students’ enjoyment and confidence, and reduced statistics-related queries and concerns. He embedded statistics tuition into undergraduate practicals, working alongside students to analyse data collected from experiments. These authentic and personalised learning opportunities were extremely well received. Will also contributes seminars at the School, University and national level to enrich student experience and share best practice: e.g. speaking about his personal journey from loathing to loving statistics, which empowered students to overcome the same challenges. Will is committed to scholarship and research relating to learning development: He is actively researching statistics learning development approaches in the HE sector; developing materials on Bayesian statistics (a response to student feedback); and mentoring AFHEA candidates, having recently gained FHEA himself. Will clearly understands the principle of inclusivity and treats students as partners in learning. The key factor in his successful approach is his empathetic and compassionate attitude. Will uses patience and encouragement; putting students at ease as a means to effective learning. His impact on learning support has been truly remarkable.

Chrissi Nerantzi, University of Leeds, nominated by Sandra Sinfield and Tom Burns:

We nominate Chrissi Nerantzi for an individual ALDinHE award. Chrissi is the founder of #LTHEchat and #creativeHE. #LTHEchat refers to the informal dispersed professional development conversations that take place weekly in Twitter that have created a network of more informed and engaged learning and education developers in the broadest sense. Each year new people lead the #LTHEchat programme, inviting collaborators to lead sessions week by week, launching their conversation with a blog. Chrissi is also the founder of #CreativeHE, the national and international dispersed, voluntary and informal PD network that is research active with respect to creative teaching, learning and assessment practices in HE. #creativeHE emerged from a flexible PGCert module that Chrissi developed at MMU – where participants were invited to experiment and play with their practice for the benefit of their students’ engagement and powerful learning – and where they could reflect on and record their professional development as creatively and engagingly as possible. These innovative projects come from Chrissi’s values and commitment to inclusivity, collaboration and the importance of evidenced informed practice. Chrissi is an advocate of open access and Inclusive Leadership – and these projects would not exist without her. Chrissi’s practice is rooted in ALDinHE values of working alongside and in partnership with – of collaboration – of sharing effective Learning Development practice with and outwith our own institutions – critical self-reflection – ongoing professional development … all underpinned by a research-active and research-informed scholarly approach. The benefit to academics and their students is the ongoing struggle to reinvigorate HE with respect to authentic and empowering liberatory teaching, learning and assessment praxis. With both #LTHEchat and #creativeHE, Chrissi reached out across institutional and professional boundaries to grow the programmes, gradually transferring ownership and control to new members and/or new configurations of participants.

Jason Truscott, University of Plymouth, nominated by The LearnHigher working group:

The LearnHigher Working Group (Jennie Dettmer, Laura Key, Helena Beeson, Chad McDonald, Moira Maguire, Lee Fallin, Sumeetra Ramakrishnan, Clara Hiskey) would like to nominate Jason Truscott for the ALDinHE award. This is in recognition of the hard work that Jason put in behind the scenes as Co-chair of Learnhigher. Jason was Co-chair of LearnHigher for over 8 years (2015-2023), after taking over from Andy Hagyard to join Amanda Pocklington as Co-chair. Using his expertise he oversaw the technical side of the original website, often working evenings and weekends to ensure a working platform and it was thanks to his technical expertise that traction was given to the website. He also oversaw the move to the vertical plus platform in 2020, often spending hours in meetings with the company to ensure a smooth transition and that the functions needed would be present from the outset. This also meant a major review of all the LearnHigher resources and Jason was pivotal in overseeing this project. Jason also supported LearnHigher’s move onto the main ALDinHE website in 2022. We would like to acknowledge that without Jason’s tireless work, the website would be in a very different place today. Jason’s input into LearnHigher has meant a seamless experience for thousands of users across the globe, which has positively impacted the thousands of students who engage with LearnHigher resources.

Stephanie Baines, Brunel University London, nominated by Pauldy Otermans:

Steph is an Education Academic in the Division of Psychology at Brunel University London who is passionate about further enhancing the student experience through the variety of research projects that she leads or contributes to. These cover a wide range of topics all contributing to the quality of education we provide. Her research projects include interviews and focus groups with students to find out how the way we provide feedback on assessments can be improved to ensure feedback is useful, relevant and feeding forward. This has led to workshops with staff and improved rubrics in WISEflow. The research project on academic skills development in students through interviews has impacted on the way we support our students with the transition to HE and their ongoing academic, professional and employability skills development throughout their studies. This has ensured that students are not only prepared and supported for their degree but also for their graduate journey moving forward. This nicely leads to her projects on employability where she has worked with her colleague in the Division to find out how we can further embed the development of transferable skills in the programme. This has led to the publication of Advance HE Case Studies on Employability in 2023, focusing on supporting our students to develop the skills they need for the graduate world. Steph regularly presents and discusses her projects within Brunel – at APDU events, College Education Days, CHMLS Education Hub and beyond (national and international conferences including Advance HE). I strongly believe Steph’s research has made a significant, positive impact to the quality of education at Brunel.

Pauldy Otermans, Brunel University London, nominated by Stephanie Baines:

Pauldy is an Education Academic in the Division of Psychology at Brunel University London, whose research places student experience and employability at its very heart. Pauldy and her collaborators have conducted a number of research projects with students to investigate how academic staff can best support our students, provide meaningful feedback, and embed the development of transferrable skills into the programme. Studies investigating how students understand and utilise the feedback academic staff provided on assessments has led to the redesign of the feedback rubric used across the Division, as well as the development of feedforward elements built into assessments within the BSc Psychology programme. Working together with students, Pauldy and colleagues have conducted a study investigating the academic skills provision across the programme. The data from this study are being used to refine and enhance the skills provision to ensure their students are well equipped to thrive in their degree and beyond. As the employability lead for the Division, Pauldy is passionate about developing a strong set of transferrable skills in our students. Her work in establishing an employability module, the Graduate Stream Award and an employability curriculum has led to the publication of Advance HE Case Studies for the past two years, each focusing on how we can furnish our graduates with the skills they need to give them the edge and thrive in the competitive employability market. Pauldy consistently contributes to the educational research culture at Brunel, through regular research presentations at APDU events, CHMLS Educational events and Education Hub symposiums. Beyond this, Pauldy has presented at a number of national conferences, including Advance HE Employability and Teaching and Learning Conferences. I strongly believe Pauldy’s research has made a significant, positive impact to the quality of education at Brunel. She also works on AI in Education.

Case study 2022

Case study 2023

Angela Rhead, Keele University, nominated by Christopher Little:

Angela works tirelessly in the field of LD embracing not only the student-facing side of work, but the staff and academic development side too. At Keele University, Angela offers transformational LD experiences through traditional workshops and 1:1 tutorials with students. Additionally, she runs several modules in Keele’s MA in Higher Education practice where she embeds and embodies the values of ALDinHE when helping to educate new teaching staff at Keele. She offers excellent LD practice to students and colleagues and, through her work with staff in the MA HEP, she trains and influences other educators to do the same. A ‘potted’ example of this would be her work around Academic Reading Retreats. She developed a range of innovative teaching strategies designed to expose the hidden expectations and conventions of reading academic sources. She embedded these teaching sessions into many programmes across the university, ranging from Sociology to Nursing, having huge impacts on student confidence and upskilling colleagues in the process. Angela now offers whole day extracurricular Academic Reading Retreats where students, staff and researchers come together to work equally in partnership to achieve their reading goals. Angela has published and presented at many conferences, including ALDCon, on these practices, sharing this work with the sector. She then launched the Becoming Well Read symposium, now in it’s third iteration. This annual conference gives colleagues, many from the LD field, a platform to share practice and raise their profiles. You will struggle to find a colleague working in LD who more wholly embodies the values of ALDinHE. Her work is transformative, emancipatory, student-centred and inclusive, putting students and staff as partners in all things, underpinned by a scholarly and collegiate approach which sees her sharing her practice, and raising the profile of LD work, beyond her own immediate circles at Keele.

Lisa Eveson, Teesside University (self-nomination):

Lisa has been involved in working in partnership with Teesside University’s Environmental Research Society to make sense of research skills and academic referencing, so that they can get the most out of their University learning. Feedback shows that the students felt the sessions Lisa gave were informative and would be beneficial to their future careers. Some of the research skills gained also mean that the students are currently conducting scientific research to support policy development and implementation of the Middlesbrough green strategy plan. This partnership has contributed to the society being honoured with the prestigious “Best New Society of the Year” award at the Teesside
Student Union Awards Ceremony.
As a result of the partnership, Lisa has also equipped the President of the society with presentation skills and the ability to create poster presentations. He then used this information to contribute to a Learning and Teaching Exchange network event talking about the partnership and skills that the society gained as a result of the collaborative work with Lisa. Lisa is a keen and enthusiastic academic librarian who strongly believes that students should be involved in their driving and helping to facilitate their learning and using the skills they gain to benefit their future lives and the community at large.

Dr Christine O’Dea, Huddersfield University (self-nomination):

I would like to propose myself for my work in helping and supporting international students. Throughout my career I have had a strong commitment to providing an inclusive, equal and supportive learning environment for the international students. I have developed a number of projects, engaged in research and conducted many activities to help support international students and enhance their learning experience. For example, I was among one of the first in the country to co-design and develop a transition website with students to support the transition of both international and domestic students into Higher Education. During my doctoral research, I used portrait methodology to provide undergraduate international students with regular opportunities to self-reflect. They fed back that it significantly improved their understanding the education system and enhanced their academic performance. Currently I am a critical friend for York St John University’s learning teaching and student experience project – positive transition. EDI is an essential element of the project as it seeks to create a smooth transition experience for diverse student groups. In my teaching, I adopt technology enhanced approaches and apply effective practices to support all students particularly international students at both the online and face-to-face environments. During the pandemic, I used online interactive quizzes on a postgraduate module to assist collaborative learning and keep students engaged in online learning. Student feedback shows that this approach helped increase online student engagement, and helped students stay connected with their virtual communities. Internally, I shared this experience with colleagues at the Business School. Externally, I published my experience as a case study with the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. I continue developing my subject and pedagogical knowledge. I am applying to be a Principal Fellow of HEA, and have been attending the workshops delivered by SRHE, BAM and CABS CMBE.

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