Colleagues honoured with prestigious awards for teaching excellence

We are delighted to announce that two inspirational academics have today been honoured with national awards in recognition of their work to transform student and academic learning.

Dr Pete Mylon from Multidisciplinary Engineering Education and Dr Rachel van Duyvenbode from the School of English have been awarded prestigious National Teaching Fellowships by Advance HE for the outstanding impact of their teaching and support in UK higher education.

In addition to the National Teaching Fellowships, we are also delighted to announce that the Student Employability Development team in Biomedical Science (BMS) has been awarded a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) for their multifaceted approach to embedding employability in the curriculum.

The CATE recognises and rewards collaborative work that has had a demonstrable impact on teaching and learning. Introduced in 2016, the scheme highlights the key role of teamwork in higher education. This is the first time the University has received a CATE and is therefore a tremendous achievement for all involved.

Dr Mylon, Dr van Duyvenbode, and the BMS Student Employability Development team are among 56 new National Teaching Fellows, and 15 winning teams in the Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence, announced by Advance HE today (6 August 2020).

Professor Wyn Morgan, Vice-President for Education, said: “I am delighted to see another two outstanding colleagues achieve the accolade of National Teaching Fellow, and want to congratulate Pete and Rachel on their success. The iForge makerspace Pete established recently played a vital role in our University’s response to the coronavirus crisis, and Rachel’s vital work on the Race Equality student training programme is an integral part of the organisation’s work in this area.

“I would also like to congratulate the BMS team on the CATE award. Embedding employability in the curriculum is a vital element of the Programme Level Approach and especially as the employment sector may look very different for this year’s and future graduates, this work offers a valuable example of the multifaceted approaches we can take to prepare our students.”

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS). More than 900 National Teaching Fellowships have been awarded since 2000 and over the past five years, the University has had seven National Teaching Fellows.

NTF and CATE at the University are coordinated by Elevate, which supports and enables all academic staff to engage in professional development opportunities, enhance their teaching, share their practice and celebrate their achievements.

Professor Brendan Stone added: “Elevate is a wonderful resource for all colleagues to support and enhance their practice in teaching and supporting student learning. The opportunities and resources offered by Elevate colleagues enable us to share best practice examples and enable collaborations across the organisation. It also allows us to recognise and celebrate great achievements such as these recent awards. I would like to congratulate Rachel, Pete and the BMS team and thank them for their contributions.”

Find out more about our award-winning colleagues:

Dr Pete Mylon, National Teaching Fellowship

Dr Pete Mylon

Dr Pete Mylon is passionate about helping students to lead and to own their learning and loves collaborating with them to create innovative learning environments and experiences. While Pete’s work has primarily focused on Making, he also teaches Computer-Aided Design within Multidisciplinary Engineering Education (MEE).

In 2017, Pete worked with a team of students to establish the iForge, the UK’s first student-led makerspace. The iForge is a relaxed, non-hierarchical peer learning environment where students learn practical skills and collaborate, both within and alongside the curriculum. It has seen more than 20,000 visits in less than three years, has over 3,000 registered users, and is developing a global reputation.

The facilities Pete has created have allowed him to support colleagues across the University to implement new pedagogies, allowing students the freedom and flexibility to own their learning. He has also advised institutions across the world, from Canada to Malaysia, on the benefits of student-led makerspaces and how to realise them in different contexts, with a particular focus on building community. In 2019, he established UNIMAKER, an international conference on Making in Higher Education for staff and students, bringing 80 participants from 25 institutions to the iForge in its first year.

Pete loves creating new and ambitious Making challenges, getting students to design and build novel musical instruments, or autonomous robotic sea creatures. He also oversees Student-Led Activities in Engineering, a community of makers building rockets, racing cars and bionic limbs. Pete also co-founded the UK’s first assistive technology hackathon, Hackcessible.

In 2018, Pete was awarded a prestigious Early Career Senate Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, recognising significant impact on practice within the University.

Pete said: "It is great to know that the work I have done to increase student access to Making and give students more ownership of their learning has been recognised. I can't overstate the importance of MEE's culture of innovation and encouragement in making things like the iForge happen."

Dr Rachel van Duyvenbode, National Teaching Fellowship

Dr Rachel van Duyvenbode

Dr Rachel van Duyvenbode is an American literature specialist focusing on narratives of race and whiteness. She has been at the forefront of using reflective and experiential pedagogies for the teaching of whiteness and white privilege in university contexts.

Students describe Rachel’s classroom as a uniquely empowering space where she creates transformative places for learning which promote belonging and confidence to ask critical questions of ourselves and the world. Some highlights of her teaching practice include designing the UK’s first MA module in literary whiteness, collaborative work with Sheffield based writers of colour and the ongoing development of a Faculty-wide approach to decolonising the curriculum.

Rachel developed the University’s pilot Race Equality student training programme, which was subsequently scaled up in September 2019 to an institution-wide programme. She is also the driving force behind the inspirational #readingfordiversity Library campaign and Director of the FirstGenSheffield; a programme of opportunity and support for First Generation students in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

In 2015, Rachel led the UK’s first SEED Project on Inclusive Curriculum based on the work of the longstanding National SEED Project USA. The Sheffield SEED Project is a sector-leading staff EDI professional development programme which aims to drive personal and organisational change towards social justice through peer conversation and reflective enquiry. Through SEED, Rachel has been instrumental in bringing experiential, creative and reflective pedagogies into staff development contexts and has challenged and influenced the institutional approach to EDI staff training.

Rachel has advised organisations and universities in the UK on EDI staff development practices and was recently appointed as the Faculty Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (Arts and Humanities) to lead structural and organisational change around EDI practice.

Rachel said: “I’m delighted to receive a National Teaching Fellowship. Although the award celebrates individual success, I want to recognise the contribution of inspirational colleagues and students who have worked with me in classrooms and projects over the years. In particular, I want to extend heartfelt thanks to all the TUOS staff who took a leap of faith on the SEED Project and taught me so much about inclusion in practice. As a part-time member of staff with a young family, the achievement of an NTF wouldn’t have been possible without their support and sacrifice; thank you for everything.”

BMS Student Employability Development team, Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence

BMS Student Employability Development team

The BMS Student Employability Development team are responsible for the preparation, delivery and assessment of employability skills by the Department of Biomedical Science. The cross-discipline team is managed by Dr Gordon Cooper and brings together departmental Learning Technologist, Neil Everill, Careers Service consultant Alison Clay, and the digital literacy and media expertise of Dr Graham McElearney in the Digital Learning team and Jonny Hooton in Creative Media Service.

With expansion in student numbers and increased competition for roles in all sectors, BMS recognised the need to provide advice and training in future-facing employability skills that take account of and reflect developments in technology and practice. The current team has been working together for 13 years to foster skills development.

Their approach integrates delivery of traditional academic content via lectures and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), hands-on experience by working with employers and experience of novel skills through projects in website design and video production. An Employability Symposium day for Level 2 students, built around employer-led workshops, provides symbiotic outcomes for students and employers. This is coupled with near-peer teaching to provide valuable and unique input from finalists and postgraduate students. The team also helps to promote refinement of emotional skills to round off a key, but previously missing, area that completes student personal development.

Thanks to their collaborative efforts, the team have contributed to a sustained 22 per cent rise in the graduate-level employment outcomes of their students. This is driven by an increased confidence in both their personal abilities and for tackling the labour market.

Gordon said: “The whole team is delighted that our multifaceted approach to embedding employability in the curriculum and enhancing the student experience has been recognised by this prestigious award. It is an honour for our group to be the first from the University of Sheffield to be acknowledged by Advance HE with the receipt of a CATE.

“It has been a pleasure to view the quality of the video project work produced by the students and how popular it has become on the department’s social media platforms. Seeing how the approaches we have adopted has opened the eyes of many students to the wealth of options available to them emphasises the value of our work . Finally, incorporating professional networking via LinkedIn has fostered new relationships between students, alumni and the department.”