The Business School’s ‘Excellence in Teaching’ awards

Business School Excellence in Teaching award winners, 2019, photo courtesy of author.

In this post for the monthly theme on ‘Staff development’, Inger Seiferheld, Director of Quality and Accreditations, tells us about the Business School’s Excellence in Teaching award, a scheme aimed at celebrating good teaching and student support across the school…

Over the years, the Business School has implemented a number of “Excellence in Teaching” awards.  Each award is worth £1000 and is transferred to the winner’s research account to support their personal development.

They key reason for implementing our teaching awards is to reward good teaching and student support, and show that this is highly valued in the School.  The awards were defined based on areas particularly important to the student experience along with areas where we would like to see improvements in the NSS. All awards were proposed by the School’s Learning & Teaching Forum for approval by the School Executive Committee.

The first award, for “Best Course”, was created in 2012/13 and two “Best Personal Tutor” awards were created in 2015/16, one for undergraduate and one for taught postgraduate levels.  Both awards were attributed through direct student nomination.  Further competitive awards based on performance in the Course Enhancement Questionnaire (CEQ) were introduced in 2014/15 including one for the Best PhD Teaching Assistant, with the course/person achieving the highest score in specific categories for securing the award. Awards were shared if two or more courses/people received the same score.

For a number of years, the School has rewarded high-quality journal publications, for which all participants meeting the set requirements were given an award.  After discussions, we concluded that the non-competitive nature of the research awards could be interpreted to suggest that research is more important than teaching. In response, we decided to remove the element of competition for the CEQ-based teaching awards in order to create parity and to send the message that excellent performance in teaching and research are equally important to the School.

From 2018/19, teaching awards are given to all courses scoring 5.0 in the CEQ in:

  • “Overall I am satisfied with the quality of the course”, or
  • “Feedback so far has been helpful and informative”

Based on participation rate patterns, we set required response rates for all CEQ-based awards, while other award criteria exclude lecturers from other schools in the University and other bought-in teaching from securing these awards. The response rate requirement has enabled Course Organisers to become more aware of participation rates in these surveys and have led to some proactively engaging with students to secure higher participation rates. Before making these changes to our awards, we conducted a detailed study of all available CEQ scores over the previous three years to see whether we had evidence to suggest that either gender group would be affected negatively.

We have also created the following awards:

  • The “Inspirational Teaching” award, based on direct student nominations with four awards:
    • Non-Honours level
    • Honours level
    • MSc level
    • MBA level
  • The “Best Personal Tutor”, also by direct student nomination, with one award on UG level and one on PGT level.

We advertise the option to send nominations for these awards on Learn and we regularly remind students about this option in our newsletters. The Dean with the Director of UG programmes, the Director of PG programmes and the Director of Quality and Accreditations review nominations and select the winners. The Dean can assign different staff members to the review committee if one/several committee members have been nominated.

We celebrate the winners in one of our All-School Forum meetings and more widely by announcing the winners to students and staff on the in-house plasma screens, in newsletters and via social media.  We do a group photo, if possible, and in the photo winners present our big “Excellence in Teaching” award sign unless they prefer not to participate in this part of the celebrations.

Securing an award has been particularly beneficial to junior faculty members who were then able to secure grants to attend conferences and events relevant to their personal development. One winner revealed after receiving the award that this would allow him to attend a conference to present a paper, which had not seemed possible before securing the award. Teaching Fellows have been able to attend and participate in research conferences and other events relevant to their subject area or to develop their skills as a teacher. They can also put the funds toward maintaining professional qualifications of importance to their subject area and courses.

At present, the CEQ model is under review by the University, which will require the School to change its approach. We maintain that teaching is as important as research so we will rethink our teaching awards, once we know the outcome, to ensure that we continue to reward excellent performance.

Inger Seiferheld
Dr Inger Seiferheld holds School-wide responsibility for Quality and Accreditations. Prior to taking on the role as Director of Quality and Accreditations, she held various MBA directorship roles at the School over a period of eight years, and taught “Operations Management”, “Technology Management”, and “Design Creativity and Problem-Solving”. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and hold a Danish equivalent from Aalborg University in Denmark, where she was formerly an Assistant Professor.

One comment

  1. It’s great to see you recognize teaching, and at least as much as research. Thank you.

    5.0 in the CEQ!? That doesn’t sound like a robust statistic: it could be broken by a single disgruntled student — or even a single student who is “only” satisfied”, not extremely satisfied. Please do look at and recognize what people are actually doing, which may be clearer from the free text.

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