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UCD Teaching and Learning

"Good teachers impart good education. Great teachers groom their students to become leaders. Ordinary teachers direct us along the right path, but great teachers inspire us to seek our own path. They encourage us to discover our talents." Anatole France

UCD Teaching and Learning Awards 2018

These prestigious awards celebrate the achievements of colleagues who make an outstanding contribution to the pursuit of teaching excellence and the enhancement of student learning. 

There are two award schemes, tiered, with awards at college and University level. The scheme allows the UCD community including students, faculty and staff to nominate faculty and staff for an award. Between 13th November 2017 and 31st August 2018 2,363 nominations were submitted by students (91%), faculty and staff. Nominees were then invited to apply for an award initially at college level and, following a competitive process, there were 53 awardees at that level.

Congratulations to the UCD College Level Teaching and Learning Awardees 2018

Following another competitive process, nine of those were further honoured with University level awards.  For more information on the 2018 awards including the criteria and process go to Teaching and Learning Awards.  

Teaching Excellence Awards recognise individual faculty for sustained commitment to teaching excellence and student learning.  Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning recognise individual staff or teams including staff and faculty, who have made outstanding contributions to student learning in a specific area.

Congratulations University Teaching and Learning Awardees 2018

Dr Shane Bergin - University Teaching Excellence Award


Dr Shane Bergin is a physicist in the UCD School of Education. Shane's teaching focuses on initial science teacher education and informal science education. In both areas, Shane’s approach is grounded in developing caring relationships with students, valuing student-agency, engagement, and creative expression.  Shane’s disposition is one of ‘education as living’ as opposed to education as a preparation for life. He seeks to blend research activities with teaching, having students at the centre of both. Examples of Shane’s teaching that embody this include informal projects like Quavers to Quadratics (with the National Concert Hall) or undergraduate modules that partner with local primary schools. Co-teaching approaches are routinely employed whereby undergraduate students, primary teachers and Shane co-plan, co-teach and co-reflect on all aspects of the project.

Nominating students attest to Shane’s student-led and student-focused approaches and his genuine commitment to their development, both personally and professionally. Shane is Principal Investigator for a number of education research grants including a Horizon 2020 grant to understand the impact informal learning has on undergraduate students.


Ms Thomond Coogan - University Award for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning


For almost twenty years now Thomond Coogan has been working and developing her role as a University Access Co-ordinator in UCD Access & Lifelong Learning (ALL). The focus of Thomond’s work is to help UCD attract, support and retain mature students from under-represented communities. In nominating Thomond for an award, students highlighted her dedication and her ability to enable others to realise their full potential. They spoke of how she had encouraged them to persist through tough times, always there to help in a truly caring way. The impact of Thomond’s work has made a significant contribution to these students, their families and communities.

Thomond engages in outreach work to the community, developing networks and providing guidance to potential students. She recruits approximately 100 students annually onto UCD’s two access programmes, then continues to provide advice, practical supports and encouragement to these students, thus empowering them to move on and through UCD.  She has developed a specific interest in working with members of the Traveller community and has initiated activities and interventions in UCD that have relevance to Traveller groups.  



Dr Linda Dowling-Hetherington - University Teaching Excellence Award


Dr Linda Dowling-Hetherington joined the UCD College of Business in 1996. She has considerable teaching experience in human resource management (HRM), with a focus on talent management; learning and development; and HRM for line managers. She has taught on four College of Business campuses (Quinn, Smurfit, Singapore and Hong Kong). Her current teaching focus is on the Human Resource Management module which she delivers as part of the full-time MSc Management programme in the Smurfit School. Learners are central in Linda’s approach, where establishing and maintaining good quality learning relationships with students is prioritised. Students attest to her exceptional teaching qualities and skills and to the care and effort invested by Linda in their development, inside and outside of the classroom.

Linda has led a number of teaching enhancement initiatives within the College of Business, including regular Programme Review and Enhancement projects, teaching induction for new faculty, and a  ‘teaching insights’ video series for staff in preparation for teaching on overseas programmes.  Linda is actively involved in researching into her own teaching practice and has published on aspects of teaching and learning in higher education.  


Professor Breandán Kennedy - University Teaching Excellence Award


Professor Breandán Kennedy is an internationally established educator in Pharmacology, the study of the biological actions of drugs. He leads teaching of fundamental Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic concepts to Science, Nursing and Physiotherapy students. With class sizes over 300 in Stage 2 Medicine/Science/Nursing; conservatively he has taught Pharmacology to more than 16,000 UCD students. Breandán has distinguished teaching expertise in Ocular Pharmacology and has developed specialised new teaching on glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and inherited retinal degeneration (iRD) within UCD.  The many students that nominated Breandán for this award spoke of his exceptional communication skills, his ability to explain difficult topics, and his capacity to be adaptive and flexible in his teaching approach in response to students’ questions and feedback.     

Breandán has a track record in leadership in Pharmacology teaching and learning both within UCD and beyond. As Head of Pharmacology (2011-2015) he was responsible for Pharmacology teaching quality in Science, Nursing, Physiotherapy and Medicine programmes.  Breandán’s leadership is internationally recognised as exemplified by his appointment to the British Pharmacological Society Expert Group for Core Undergraduate Pharmacology and as BPS Ambassador for Pharmacology in Ireland 2016-2019.  


Dr Sarah Morton - University Teaching Excellence Award


Dr Sarah Morton is Director of the Community Drugs Programme in the School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice. She teaches across a range of student cohorts, from post-graduate to a widening participation initiative at undergraduate level. Key to her teaching practice is creating learning environments that support students who have experienced lifelong educational disadvantage and continue to face major barriers to accessing and sustaining education. This work is underpinned by: innovation in programme development including e-learning; integration of community engaged research into curricula; and participating in UCD widening participation initiatives at college and University level.

Under Sarah’s leadership, a research alliance was established in 2013 with our community educational partners, Ballymun Youth Action project.  Now engaging in a third research project on community-based drug issues, findings and research activities have been embedded in the Diploma in Community Drug and Alcohol Work and the postgraduate Drug Use, Community and Society module.  Furthermore, scholarly research outputs from the Alliance are co-presented to reflecting the valued relationship underpinning this University-Community partnership.


Ms Niamh O'Donoghue - University Teaching Excellence Award


Niamh O’Donoghue was appointed Assistant Professor in Veterinary Nursing at UCD in 2016. She teaches on the topic of Animal Intensive Care and Rehabilitation and also coordinates the final year clinical placement component of the Veterinary Nursing programme. Niamh utilises technology enhanced active learning strategies to create an engaging, interactive learning environment for her students. She has adopted novel sports coaching technology to provide personalised video feedback on key clinical skills. She has also developed a bank of customised videos to assist students with preparation for clinical examinations. Her current research is on the development and validation of 3D-printed simulated models, in collaboration with the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. This inter-disciplinary research project brings together expertise in materials science, medical device design and veterinary clinical expertise to create a high fidelity, anatomically accurate simulated model for teaching veterinary clinical skills.

Recognising that effective teamwork in professional practice is vital to achieving best outcomes for patients, Niamh has recently introduced inter-professional education within the School of Veterinary Medicine, with veterinary nursing and veterinary medicine students working in teams to resuscitate simulated patients.

UCD Physio Hub - University Award for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning


Led by colleagues in UCD Physiotherapy and based in UCD’s sports facility, UCD Physio Hub was launched in February 2015. Here, physiotherapists, supported by students, address the health needs of the local and wider community, promoting physical activity and healthy lifestyles through community exercise and health promotion programmes. Over a short few years Physio Hub has become an exemplar of innovation in health professional education, providing ‘real world’ learning opportunities for promoting positive health behaviours. Students engage with student and community clients on campus through the community programmes and through sports service provision. Community outreach activities see students learn in a variety of real-world settings including local sports clubs, primary schools, farmer events, and traveller community setting.

At Physio Hub, students are encouraged to be flexible, creative, to collaborate, to co‐construct knowledge, deliver and evaluate interventions addressing diverse community health needs. This active learning environment challenges students to develop solutions, encouraging deep learning with formal evaluation indicating high levels of student engagement and a positive student experience.  To date 105 BSc and MSc Physiotherapy students have completed clinical work placements at UCD Physio Hub. 

UCD Sport - University Award for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning


The UCD Sport team plays an integral role in the provision of club sporting opportunities at UCD. Students are afforded the opportunity to become involved in club activity as a participant, committee member and /or coach. The scale of activity is impressive, particularly given that the Sport team comprises just three people – UCD has 56 Sports clubs with over 5,500 student members. Committees are continually supported by the team to ensure that clubs operate to the highest standards in accordance with the policies of the University and national governing bodies of sport. They do this through the provision of training and up-to-date resources; support to individual club committees; representation on external bodies; and an inclusive sports awards structure that also recognises excellence in club committee work. The team strives to ensure that UCD clubs are the flag bearers for student sport in Ireland. Moreover, the UCD Sport team is committed to providing students with opportunities to excel outside their formal learning environment, to take part in healthy lifestyle activities and to build an affinity with their university that will last a lifetime.

UCD Writing Centre - University Award for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning


The UCD Writing Centre offers free individual and group tuition in writing to undergraduate and postgraduate students university-wide. The manager, Dr Zeljka Doljanin and her team of 10 writing instructors engaged in 1,696 individual writing sessions in 2017/18. Students are supported, encouraged, and taught how to read analytically, think clearly, and plan and organise their thoughts in a well-structured and logical way. Feedback in the Writing Centre is collected daily, and recent feedback indicated that 94.5% of students ‘feel more confident about approaching [their] assignment after this session’ and that as many as 98.7% of students would recommend the Writing Centre to others. Some students also attributed improvements in their grades to the work that they had undertaken under the guidance of the Writing Centre team.

The centre also delivers workshops on a variety of writing topics, as well as writing skills workshops for 5th year school students in underrepresented communities. Constant growth and high usage of the Centre, together with extremely positive student feedback, attest to the effectiveness and impact of the Centre on students’ confidence and their overall university experience.