Vice-Chancellor's Awards for Learning and Teaching

Woman writing on a display board, leaning forward, paper in handThe Vice-Chancellor’s Award Scheme for Learning and Teaching is designed to encourage and promote good practice, and raise the status of teaching and learning as a scholarly and inspirational activity. The awards scheme has been approved by the Senate Learning and Teaching Committee and will be formally reported to Senate in March.

All staff who teach or support learning at the institution will be eligible to be nominated for the awards. This also includes Teaching Associates, Graduate Teaching Assistants and professional services staff, as well as colleagues from the AMRC and CITY College, Thessaloniki.

Colleagues can be nominated for an award by any member of staff or a student at the University. The closing date for nominations is 5pm on 9 April 2021

Nomination Form

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Award categories and criteria

There are nine award categories, each followed by ‘to support student learning and development’. Nominations can be for any aspects of teaching practice related to the criteria for each award as described below.

Nominations in all categories will be reviewed using the following criteria:

The nomination indicates how the nominee’s practice:

  • has impact beyond their immediate teaching context
  • has had a sustained, positive and demonstrable impact on student learning, support, wellbeing and/or the broader student experience
  • encompasses a breadth of activities related to learning and teaching
  • shows a commitment to inclusive practice that values and promotes equality and diversity
  • could be shared more broadly to support others across the institution and potentially the sector in their learning and teaching practice

In addition, each award will be reviewed according to specific criteria related to that award:

Teaching practice

Colleagues nominated for this award engage in teaching, assessment and/or feedback practice that inspires student learning. This could include (but is not limited to) integrating research into their teaching, using creative activities to prompt student learning, fostering a sense of community among students, developing inclusive learning environments that encourage students to participate, designing innovative assessments and/or adopting dialogic and supportive approaches to feedback.

The nomination indicates how the nominee’s practice:

  • inspires students to be critical, independent and enthusiastic learners in their subject or discipline

Doctoral supervision

Colleagues nominated for this award offer supportive supervision, whether formal or informal, that guides doctoral students towards becoming independent researchers whose work will make a significant contribution to their academic field. This could include (but is not limited to) supporting the wellbeing and mental health of doctoral students, providing ongoing, constructive feedback on doctoral work and/or encouraging students to engage with wider research opportunities.

The nomination indicates how the nominee’s practice:

  • offers supportive, encouraging and constructive supervision to doctoral students that promotes wellbeing and enables them to work towards becoming independent researchers
  • instils a curiosity and passion for doctoral research.

This category is open to doctoral supervisors and those who support doctoral work, including post-docs, technicians and others.

Personal tutoring and social welfare

Colleagues nominated for this award ensure that students experience ongoing support that enables them to engage with their learning. This could include (but is not limited to) providing ongoing support for student wellbeing and mental health, supporting individual students’ learning needs, building community between personal tutees, establishing effective personal tutoring systems to support students, and/or supporting student transitions into and throughout the programme.

This nomination indicates how the nominee’s practice:

  • provides encouraging support for students that is tailored to their individual needs and enables them to actively participate in their learning.
  • recognises the importance of supporting student wellbeing, including signposting to alternative services where appropriate.
Embedding sustainability

Colleagues nominated for this award prepare students to develop solutions to the complex environmental, economic and social challenges of the world. This could include (but is not limited to) pedagogical approaches for exploring Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) issues (such as climate change, poverty reduction and social equality) in the curriculum, developing engaged projects within local communities, creating authentic assessments that encourage students to explore ‘wicked’ problems, and/or supporting students to develop skills and attributes relating to responsible citizenship. The award is therefore focused on how colleagues approach pedagogy and practice around ESD rather than the topics and content explored.

This nomination indicates how the nominee’s practice:

  • supports students through innovative pedagogies of education for sustainable development to engage thoughtfully and critically with complex real-world problems and their potential solutions.

Approaches to inclusivity and diversity

Colleagues nominated for this award enact principles of inclusivity and diversity through their work. This could include (but is not limited to) taking a proactive approach to decolonising the curriculum, encouraging students to think critically about issues of inclusivity and diversity within their programme, creating inclusive learning environments and/or promoting accessibility for all students they engage with in their work.

This nomination indicates how the nominee’s practice:

  • critically engages with issues around inclusivity and diversity
  • actively implements strategies designed to promote inclusivity and diversity to ensure that their students thrive.


Colleagues nominated for this award provide opportunities for students to define, develop and reflect on the skills and attributes that are likely to enhance their employability. This could include (but is not limited to) progression on mapping and defining skills and the Sheffield Graduate Attributes within the curriculum, creating authentic assessments that mirror real-life working environments and/or encourage self-reflection, and/or providing work-based or work-orientated experiences or placement opportunities.

This nomination indicates how the nominee’s practice:

  • equips students with the skills, values and attributes that will prepare them for their future careers and enable them to make a positive contribution to the world beyond university.

Digital innovation

Colleagues nominated for this award use technology to enhance the student learning experience in innovative ways. This could include (but is not limited to) developing activities that engage students with their learning in innovative ways, fostering the development of a community of learners using online approaches, working with students as co-creators of digital work, and promoting digital literacy and inclusion. The innovation evidenced should be in the way digital technology has transformed the learning or experience of learners, not necessarily in the use of novel technology that is innovative in itself.

This nomination indicates how the nominee’s practice:

  • adopts a considered, evidence-led approach to utilising technology on an ongoing basis to successfully support and transform student learning
  • is implemented with considerations to digital accessibility and inclusion.


Colleagues nominated for this award demonstrate a commitment to getting buy-in from others to effectively influence change. This could include (but is not limited to) departmental or Faculty leadership through a period of significant change, leadership and influencing of peers to support the student experience, and/or informal leadership around a particular aspect of learning and teaching practice (such as employability, diversity and inclusion, assessment or digital learning)

This nomination indicates how the nominee’s practice:

  • engages a broad range of colleagues around key agendas relating to learning and teaching
  • ensures buy-in from key representatives to support positive change for the student experience.
Collaborative activities

Teams nominated for this award work collaboratively to provide inspiring learning experiences for students beyond what would be expected from everyday teamwork. This could include (but is not limited to) staff-student partnerships, interdisciplinary teams, teams comprising academic and professional services staff and/or cross-institutional teams.

This nomination indicates how the nominee team’s practice:

  • supports and ensures successful collaboration between colleagues in carrying out their work
  • values and represents the unique knowledge, skills and expertise of all members of the team.

Please note that it is the responsibility of the nominator to define the team. The team should comprise at least three individuals to be eligible for this award.

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Eligibility and nominations

Previous winners of Senate Awards can be nominated for these awards. Colleagues can be nominated in more than one category, although they cannot win in different categories in the same year. They can however be nominated and win in different years, for the same or different category. If a colleague receives more than one nomination in the same category in the same year, these will be collated, although the number of nominations will not in itself offer any advantage.

Colleagues cannot nominate themselves for an award.

For the 2020-2021 awards, nominations can refer to practice from the 2020-2021 or 2019-2020 academic years due to the cancellation of last year’s awards.

Nominations are made via the Google Form, and comprise a statement (500 words max) of why the colleagues has been nominated according to the criteria detailed above.

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Nominations will be reviewed by a panel comprising the following:

  • Deputy Vice-President for Education (chair)
  • A Faculty Director of Learning and Teaching
  • A Head of Department
  • Students’ Union Education Officer
  • A student Academic Representative from an undergraduate programme
  • A student Academic Representative from a postgraduate taught programme
  • A former Senate/Vice-Chancellor’s Award Winner
  • A Faculty Director for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
  • A representative of Elevate

Panel members will be drawn from different Faculties to ensure representation from across the institution. Depending on the award, an extra panel member with expertise in that area may be invited to attend (for example a colleague from Research Services for the Doctoral Supervision Award; or a colleague from the Careers Service for the Employability Award).

There will be one overall winner for each category, with the option for the panel to identify up to four ‘highly commended’ colleagues and/or teams in each category. No cash awards will be made. Depending upon the strength of applications, there is no obligation to make an award under each category every year.

Demonstrating achievement of the criteria does not guarantee an award, and the panel’s decision is final.

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The winners will be announced at a celebration event in June attended by the Vice-Chancellor.

A formal certificate will be presented to the winners at an appropriate graduation ceremony. Highly commended colleagues will be sent a certificate, and all nominated colleagues will receive an email to inform them that they’ve been nominated.

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Sharing Good Practice

Colleagues whose good practice is highlighted through the nomination process will be invited to share their work through Elevate. Depending on the submissions, this could include written case studies, showcase events, or networking events.