Edinburgh University Students’ Association has the longest running student-led Teaching Awards in the UK, with the Awards currently in their 10th year. Each year, students recognise outstanding lecturers, courses, supervisors, personal tutors, and professional and administrative staff, with thousands of nominations received each year across nine categories. The Teaching Awards are a chance for students to identify and communicate what good teaching looks like to them and to give students an opportunity to enter the discussion around the learning and teaching experience.
When a staff member receives a Teaching Award nomination, they are sent the student’s comment which gives them an opportunity to receive direct feedback on what they are doing well in their teaching practice. As the video shows, the experience of receiving this feedback means a great deal to the staff member as well as having the practical benefit of identifying for them exactly which parts of their practice are working well for students. In recent years, Teaching Awards nominations have also been included as part of the grounds for staff promotion which we believe reflects the University’s acknowledgement of the value of student feedback and gives the Awards a deservedly high status across the whole University community.
Our Teaching Awards are judged entirely by a student judging panel to ensure that the process is truly student-led from beginning to end. Our student judges gain a unique perspective of the Awards, with one participant emphasising that the Teaching Awards ‘treat the learning process as a two-way street’. This comment highlights a key benefit of the Awards – the more that students are able to consider and comment on their own learning, the more that the pedagogical experience can be improved for both students and staff. In addition, and in contrast to some other mechanisms for student feedback, the Teaching Awards looks specifically for examples of positive practice. The wider Scottish quality landscape priorities an enhancement-led approach over a more ‘tick-box’ assurance method, and the Teaching Awards feeds directly into this focus on continuous improvement of the University through the sharing of best practice and the celebration of excellence.
The recent creation of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) has encouraged a wider national conversation around the nature of good teaching and how to best measure it. At Edinburgh University Students’ Association, we believe that it is imperative that the student voice is at the heart of discussions around pedagogical standards and have identified Teaching Awards data as one way to surface this voice in a way which moves beyond a purely metrics-based approach.
The student-led Teaching Awards offer up an incredible opportunity for students studying at the University of Edinburgh to celebrate the work of academic and support staff that have made a significant impact on their time at Edinburgh and this year’s nominations have once again shown that above all else, students appreciate staff that make the learning environment one of intellectual challenge as much as pastoral support.
This year’s Teaching Awards will be held at Teviot Row House on Thursday 26 April.