Excellent teaching recognised at University of Nottingham

Dr Gordon Ramsay and Dr Martin Luck
28 Jul 2011 14:35:00.000


Two academics at The University of Nottingham have been named among the very best teachers in UK higher education.

Dr Martin Luck and Dr Gordon Ramsay have received prestigious National Teaching Fellowships for their inspirational and innovative teaching, and will each receive £10,000 to put towards further professional development.

Both are ranked as outstanding teachers by their own undergraduate students — for their work to make lectures engaging, challenging, memorable and fun.

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The awards, run by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, are the most prestigious in the UK for excellence in higher education teaching and support for learning.

The citation for Dr Luck, Associate Professor of Animal Sciences in the University’s School of Biosciences, reflects on his “…long-term and substantial commitment to the teaching of science… The University regards Dr Luck as an outstanding teacher who has a highly successful approach to the teaching of difficult subject-matter and in making the links between research and teaching explicit. He continues to make an influential impact in his subject across the whole sector.”

On receiving the award, Dr Luck said: “I’m delighted and flattered to receive this award, especially as I work in a university which is full of excellent and inspiring teachers.”

Dr Ramsay, a Lecturer in Drama and Performance in the School of English, is described in his citation as “…one of the School’s most outstanding and inventive teachers… his achievements are well known across the University because his students enthuse about his lectures to friends and family… he has a tremendous and life-long impact on the students he teaches.”

“His methods are the result of his determination to put the student experience of learning at the heart of what he does, which makes learning an exciting and rewarding endeavour… The University values Dr Ramsay’s achievements in the classroom very highly.”

Profiles of both Dr Ramsay and Dr Luck are given below.

Professor Saul Tendler, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning, said: “Congratulations to both Dr Luck and Dr Ramsay — these awards are thoroughly well deserved. Their popularity with the students they teach speaks for itself.

“Teaching and learning is at the core of everything we do at the University, and it is wonderful to see our staff receive national recognition for their inspirational work to convey the excitement of learning and academic study.”

The new National Teaching Fellows will officially receive their awards at a ceremony in London on Wednesday 5th October, 2011. Across the country, 55 lecturers have been selected to receive National Teaching Fellowships from more than 200 nominations received from universities and colleges.

Professor Craig Mahoney, Chief Executive of the HEA said: “During my first year as Chief Executive at the HEA I have been privileged to meet many National Teaching Fellows across the country and have been inspired by their work and achievements. Their commitment and expertise are an inspiration to academics and students alike across the sector.

“The dedication of the 55 new Fellows is to be applauded and provides further evidence of the high quality innovative practices that students paying fees will increasingly expect to experience in higher education.”

PROFILE — Dr Gordon Ramsay
Lecturer in Drama and Performance, School of English Studies

Dr Gordon Ramsay wants students to be as excited as he is about his subject area. His teaching is based on creating environments which develop students’ confidence and trust in their own voice, along with a capacity to engage with, reflect on and learn from the work of their peers. The best teaching should be unforgettable and Gordon sees his brief is to enhance students’ capacity to challenge and question theoretical as well as peer assumptions. This involves disruption of the conventional lecture format and disruption of the teaching space itself.

Gordon works with a high degree of energy and enthusiasm and this rubs off on students. If he has a maxim or touchstone, or even the beginning of a manifesto, he supposes it is to imagine that each session is the last session he will ever teach, the last session the students will ever attend.

He believes that together, teachers and learners owe it to themselves to be as intellectually adventurous as they are rigorous; to think and say what they may not have previously thought or said; and to listen to, observe and assess each other’s thoughts and actions with equal measures of acuteness and generosity. And while they should be at ease with each other, the teaching environment should not be too comfortable. If it is, nothing is happening; we are simply going through the motions.

Gordon is deeply committed to widening participation and particularly to the development of collaborative relationships with the wider community. This latter blurs the boundary between university and the wider world, and serves to enrich student knowledge, experience and understanding.

PROFILE — Dr Martin Luck
Associate Professor of Animal Sciences and Senior Tutor

Dr Martin Luck has contributed to teaching and learning developments across The University of Nottingham and twice received its Lord Dearing Award for excellence. He was nominated for the second award, in 2010, by his students.

Martin is passionate about understanding and explaining things. He believes that complex ideas are accessible to everyone if presented in the right way: facts are hard to learn and it’s much easier to follow a chain of related ideas. He teaches by drawing students through the fascination of biological processes. They comment:

• “You have a knack of asking questions to help us think through the answers for ourselves. Not many people can do that. It's amazing what you know when you really think about it.”

• “Fab lectures — wish I had more by him.”

Martin is known nationally and internationally for promoting research as the best way for undergraduates to own their subject. Students gain skills plus the intellectual satisfaction of experiencing the ‘limits of confident knowledge’. By stepping to the edge, peering over and discovering more, they appreciate that knowledge is ephemeral, understanding is provisional and progress is challenging.

Martin believes all students are capable of undertaking this adventure provided they have a structured research task and a supportive environment.

Much research by undergraduates is of high quality yet remains hidden on departmental shelves. Martin set up a showcase for research in his School and, with colleagues in four other universities and Oxford University Press, established Bioscience Horizons, the National Journal of Undergraduate Research. BH publishes expert-reviewed papers by students.

— Ends —

Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

More news from the University at: www.nottingham.ac.uk/news

Story credits

More information is available from Dr Martin Luck, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 951 6309, martin.luck@nottingham.ac.uk; Dr Gordon Ramsay, School of English Studies, University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 846 8089, gordon.ramsay@nottingham.ac.uk
Tim Utton

Tim Utton - Deputy Director of Communications

Email: tim.utton@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8092 Location: University Park

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