Dingwall lecturers honoured in student awards
Three Dingwall lecturers have been honoured by students in the fourth annual University of the Highlands and Teaching awards.
Reverend Hector Morrison from Highland Theological College UHI was named as most inspiring lecturer while his colleague, Martin Cameron, won the outstanding student support category. Matt Sillars, who lectures at Inverness College UHI but lives in Dingwall, was recognised with the best assessment feedback award.
Reverend Hector Morrison, principal and lecturer at Highland Theological College UHI in Dingwall, was nominated as most inspiring lecturer for his passion and empathy.
One student explained: “High School had not been a positive experience for me. My only ambition when I was there was to leave, which is why I was extremely apprehensive as I embarked on further studies. Hector, however, changed all that. His passion and interest in both his subject and students inspired me to achieve academic results beyond anything I could ever imagine.
“His empathy was probably his greatest quality. During my time at HTC, there were many bereavements, but Hector always showed great compassion and made a way for me to catch up on work missed. He genuinely believes in all his students and inspires them to believe in themselves. He helped me realise my full potential and has encouraged me to go on and make a positive difference in the world.”
Rev Morrison said: “It’s a great honour for me to receive this award on behalf of the many inspiring lecturers throughout the university who work hard to enable students to achieve their full potential. Perhaps our greatest successes are to be seen in the lives of those whose earlier experience of education has been negative, but who leave the university not simply with a degree, but also with the confidence to make a positive contribution to society and to inspire others in turn to reach their full potential.”
Outstanding student support winner, Martin Cameron, is a librarian at Highland Theological College UHI. He was commended for his exceptional knowledge and helpfulness. Student comments included: “His knowledge of his library is truly amazing, ask him for a book on almost any topic and he'll know where it is and how long it'll take to find it. On the rare occasion he cannot find one on site, he'll search non-stop until he finds one”; “the friendliest and most helpful librarian I have ever met” and “he is incredibly helpful in procuring books and articles and in sending them out to distance students. As a postgraduate student, his help is invaluable. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a better librarian!”
Mr Cameron, who lives in Conon Bridge, said: “This is a tremendous honour, although I believe I'm only doing what my library colleagues throughout the network are doing on a daily basis. I really enjoy working with the students and, all things considered, I've probably got the best job in the world!”
Best assessment feedback winner, Matt Sillars, works as a psychology and culture studies lecturer at Inverness College UHI. He was commended for his constructive and timely feedback. One student commented: “Matt provides clear feedback in a positive manner which helps students realise where they have gone wrong or need to improve. He is always available to help students and ensures they are able to achieve their potential.”
Another said: “Matt is a great communicator, from confirming he has received an assessment, to getting marks back to you as quickly as he can and providing constructive and thorough comments. He is also completely approachable if you need support for an assessment or want further explanation of marks received.”
It is not the first time Mr Sillars has won student praise. He was named best student adviser and most engaging video-conference tutor in last years’ teaching awards.
Speaking about his latest award for best assessment feedback, Mr Sillars, said: “As more and more students study online, and often at a great distance from a local contact, feedback is often their only direct link with a tutor. That’s why the university recognises this is more than simply marking and grading essays. Feedback is an important part of learning and teaching. It is quite an honour to be regarded as someone who is a making a difference in this way.”
Organised by UHISA, the UHI Students’ Association, the awards recognise excellence in eight categories. The other winners were :
- Best personal academic tutor, Jane MacIntosh, North Highland College UHI
- Most engaging video conference tutor, Dr Edward Graham, Lews Castle College UHI
- Most engaging online tutor, Dr Elizabeth Ritchie, Centre for History
- Best preparation for the workplace, Catriona Johnston, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI
- Best dissertation or research supervisor, Dr John Howe, Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI
The University of the Highlands and Islands was one of the first institutions to work with the Higher Education Academy and National Union of Students to introduce student-led teaching awards. They have now been adopted throughout Scotland and were introduced to the rest of the UK last year. The university is now aiming to have the country’s first student partnership agreement, which will cover joint working by staff and students on issues of common interest such as student health and wellbeing, in place by this summer.
UHISA president Katrina Paton said: “The awards celebrate and highlight teaching excellence at the university, enabling students to commend the dedication of staff. We received a record number of nominations this year which demonstrates how much students value being able to provide positive feedback.”
Dr Iain Morrison, dean of students at the university, added: “These awards are tribute to the hard work and excellence of the staff. All those nominated, as well as the eventual winners themselves, have demonstrated commitment to our students and a high level of professional expertise that has been rightly recognised by those who appreciate it most.”
The winners will all receive a trophy and certificate.