UCD Teaching and Learning Awards
These prestigious awards celebrate the achievements of colleagues who make an exceptional contribution in the pursuit of teaching excellence and the enhancement of student learning.
There are two award schemes, tiered, with awards at college and university level. Teaching Excellence Awards recognise individual faculty for sustained commitment to teaching excellence and student learning. Awards for Exceptional Contribution to Learning recognise individual UCD employees, who are engaged directly in teaching and or facilitating student learning. The scheme allows the UCD community including students, faculty and staff to nominate faculty and staff for an award.
Congratulations Teaching and Learning Awardees 2021-22
Between November 2021 and the end of August 2022, over three thousand nominations were received from students, faculty and staff. The content and volume of their nominations is a testament to the huge achievement of UCD faculty and staff in creating such a positive impact on so many lives.
Nominees were invited to apply initially at college level. Following a competitive process there were 87 awardees at college level. Congratulations to all college awardees on their remarkable achievements.
Each of the college adjudication panels then made recommendations from their pool of college awardees to put forward for consideration for a university level award. Following a competitive process, 12 of those awardees were selected to receive prestigious University Teaching and Learning awards.
The formal announcement of the UCD University Level Teaching and Learning Awardees 2021-22 was made by the Acting Registrar and Deputy President Professor Barbara Dooley on 23 January 2023 by email to all UCD staff.
The UCD 2021-22 University Teaching and Learning Awards were presented by the Acting Registrar and Deputy President Professor Barbara Dooley at a celebratory ceremony on 7 March 2023. The awards are the highest honour bestowed by the University for teaching and learning. UCD’s national and international reputation for educational excellence has been built over many years by the passion, innovation and commitment of its faculty and staff. The ceremony honoured twelve individuals, all of whom have had a transformative impact on their students’ learning experience.
In their nominations students attested to the inspiration, empathy and encouragement they received from the awardees, whose commitment to their students’ development and well-being was matched by their outstanding teaching skills and their passion for their subject areas. In particular, the students valued the innovative teaching, clear communication and dedicated mentorship of the awardees. They wrote of the respect and belief that the awardees showed them as individuals, and also highlighted how the awardees helped to foster an open, supportive UCD learning environment. Congratulations to all.
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University Teaching and Learning Awardees 2021-22
Mr Hans Eckhardt - University Award for Exceptional Contribution to Learning
Hans Eckhardt is a Senior Technical Officer in UCD School of Chemistry, where his role is multidimensional, ranging from the preparation of undergraduate labs, to managing the use of a world-class chromatography suite consisting of Gas Chromatography (GC), High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) and Ultra High-Pressure Liquid Chromatography (UHPLC) equipment.
Hans adopts a hands-on approach to teaching new instrumentation and techniques and favours a relaxed atmosphere where students are encouraged to ask questions and relate their learning to the scientific questions that they are pursuing. To maximise opportunities for hands-on interactive learning, especially with undergraduate students, he utilises older and decommissioned parts from instruments. He has developed diagrams, drawings and tables to help students to visualise chromatography processes and results. He has also developed a 53-page chromatography primer which is used as a reference guide to aid and ensure correct analysis.
In the course of his work he provides one-to-one training for PhD students and academic staff, offering custom made solutions for research questions, including ab initio method development, validation, and data analysis. This approach, though time-consuming, leads to highly skilled users of the instruments, more robust investigations and solid research findings. Hans is an expert in his field and has gone above and beyond to share his expertise with a wide range of users of the chromatography suite.
Ms Evelyn Flanagan - University Award for Exceptional Contribution to Learning
Evelyn Flanagan is the Head of UCD Special Collections in the Library, where she has prioritized making the wealth of UCD’s collections available to the UCD community. She has reached out to academic colleagues, students, researchers and administrative staff, facilitating visits and tours of Special Collections as well as developing exhibitions and contributing to the award winning UCD Cultural Heritage Collections blog.
The values of openness, accessibility and trust underpin her approach to teaching. She has collaborated with multiple module coordinators to bring students into the Special Collections environment to enhance learning on a module through ‘hands-on’ work with unique primary source materials. Since 2019, she has successfully integrated Special Collections materials into the curriculum of the BA Humanities through the 2nd year module ‘Primary Source Research’, which, to date, has been taken by approximately 420 students. Evelyn is involved in all aspects of the module design, delivery and assessment. This module provides a unique and authentic learning experience and enables students to develop primary source literacy and research skills. In nominating Evelyn for an award, a colleague noted her huge commitment to this unique teaching and learning experience, going above and beyond her role. Special Collections can be a daunting space for undergraduate students but Evelyn makes it warm and welcoming.
Dr Rachel Farrell - University Teaching Excellence Award
Dr Rachel Farrell is Assistant Professor of Initial Teacher Education at UCD School of Education. She is Director of the Professional Master of Education Programme (PME), and has worked collaboratively with her colleagues over the past number of years to update PME modules and to add a wide range of co-curricular modules that enhance the overall programme experience for students. Rachel has led many collaborative initiatives with external partners including: effective use of VR in education with SchoolVR, an evaluation of digital portfolios in ITE with Microsoft Education Ireland, cyber resilience education with the Department of the Environment Climate and Communications (DECC) and Changing Mindsets/Impacting Futures in STEM funded by SFI.
Rachel is deeply committed to educational inclusion and is a Faculty Partner for Universal Design for Learning in the College of Social Science and Law. Her own teaching is underpinned by the principles of Universal Design for Learning and the value of formative assessment and feedback. She was the Project Lead for “Staying Connected’ initiative, which aims to ensure that all students and staff associated with UCD initial teacher education programmes can fully engage with academic and student advising services.
Rachel's main research interest is in the area of Democratic Partnerships in Initial Teacher Education.
Associate Professor Jonathan McNulty - University Teaching Excellence Award
Associate Professor Jonathan McNulty is the Vice-Principal for Teaching and Learning in the College of Health and Agricultural Sciences and the Associate Dean for Graduate Taught Studies in the School of Medicine. He is passionate about teaching and learning and has established himself as an international leader in Radiography education where he is regularly invited to speak on topics linked to curriculum design and enhancement, technology-enhanced learning, educational standards, and developing the evidence base underpinning these areas. Jonathan has been involved in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning for many years and has published extensively on radiography education, in addition to leading working groups tasked with establishing European guidance documents on radiography education. In his capacity as Vice Principal for Teaching and Learning in the College of Health and Agricultural Sciences, he has demonstrated leadership of broader, College and University, T&L projects beyond his disciplinary area.
As an early adopter of technology enhanced learning, Jonathan has developed innovative approaches to enhancing student learning, particularly focused on providing formative feedback opportunities and more immersive, real-world, assessment opportunities. In nominating Jonathan for an award, students commended him on his ability to explain complex concepts in a way that’s easy to understand, his deep knowledge of his subject area and the care and kindness that he shows to his students.
Dr Stefan Müller - University Teaching Excellence Award
Dr Stefan Müller is an Assistant Professor and Ad Astra Fellow in the School of Politics and International Relations. He teaches modules and workshops on political representation, statistics, computational social science, and quantitative text analysis. Key features of Stefan’s teaching approach include student-centred active learning, a focus on ‘real world’ cases and problems, the use of a variety of assessment methods and the provision of extensive formative feedback. Stefan employs digital technology in his teaching to facilitate communication, engagement and interactions with and between learners. He maintains publicly available learning resources and is co-author of an open-source software package for quantitative text analysis, which has been installed over one million times. Since joining UCD in 2020, Stefan has led the development of two new graduate programme and serves as the director of both programmes. He is also actively researching into his teaching and has published a paper that shows how the software Slack can be used for collaboration and communication between learners.
In nominating Stefan for an award students spoke about his ability to convey complex concepts in a way that was accessible to students, the effectiveness of his teaching methods, especially his creative use of technology, and above all, his care for and dedication to his students.
Assistant Professor Orla Murphy - University Teaching Excellence Award
Assistant Professor Orla Murphy is an architect, part-time teacher and researcher in the UCD School of Architecture Planning and Environmental Policy and founding co-Director of the UCD Centre for Irish Towns. Since 2002 Orla’s teaching has focused on supporting active and engaged learning in Architecture Design Studio, guiding students to develop their design skills and build confidence to critically reflect on and evolve their practice in an expanding disciplinary field. Orla’s teaching practice is underpinned by the principle of parity of esteem between teachers and learners and an ethos of respectful shared learning experiences. She exposed students to a variety of learning formats to inspire and motivate, and she uses a broad range of feedback approaches to engage students with alternative perspectives and to develop their own learning pathway.
Orla draws on her extensive practice-based learning, research and policy development to inform ongoing curriculum development, to share best practice methodologies with her students and to connect students directly with communities beyond the academy.
Climate change challenges architects to innovate and Orla’s teaching in Stage 1 and 2 of the Master of Architecture course aims to foster students’ confidence to take creative risks in developing resilient design strategies. Orla is expanding co-creative strategies through the HCI Resilient Design Curricula project, supporting undergraduate curriculum change for climate resilient design.
Dr Gráinne O'Donoghue - University Teaching Excellence Award
Dr Gráinne O’Donoghue is an experienced physiotherapist, clinical educator and Programme Director of the Professional Masters in Physiotherapy in the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science. Her teaching philosophy is underpinned by values of respect, equality, social justice and wellbeing. By fostering relatedness, facilitating students' ownership over their learning, and employing student-centric learning processes, she promotes a safe, dynamic, interactive, and positive learning environment.
Gráinne has introduced innovative approaches to assessment rooted in student consultation and choice. She provides students with opportunities to decide on assessment topics, choose mediums through which to present their work and identify preferred assignment deadlines. This approach has resulted in significantly better class engagement around topics and assignments.
Gráinne has made a significant contribution to the review and enhancement of undergraduate and postgraduate physiotherapy curricula. She has successfully designed two postgraduate certificates, developed experiential learning opportunities including UCD’s on-campus Active Living Week (partnering with Healthy UCD), and has taken a leadership role in her School on the development of Micro-credentials, designed to upskill those employed in healthcare.
Finally, Gráinne demonstrates a sustained, high-quality understanding of and engagement with pedagogical scholarship as evidenced by 20 peer-reviewed publications, with her work having been cited more than 500 times.
Associate Professor Emma O’Neill - University Teaching Excellence Award
Associate Professor Emma O’Neill is a European Specialist in Small Animal Medicine within the School of Veterinary Medicine and has a passion for education. Emma’s ethos centres around durable skills-based learning and enabling students to succeed through development of effective approaches to their learning. She prioritises active, student-centred learning linked to authentic, relevant and interesting tasks. She has developed a variety of interactive reusable learning resources (SNAPIs - Small Nuggets Applied Practically to Inform) as tools to promote active learning and to facilitate efficient formative feedback with large classes. She has extensive expertise and experience in designing blended/online courses and has played a leadership role in establishing an interdisciplinary collaboration focused on the teaching of Evidence-based Practice (EBP).
Emma is a UCD Fellow in Teaching and Academic Development and collaborated with colleagues in researching and developing the Metacognition Design Framework, an evidence-based learning design to support metacognitive skill development in students through blended learning. This institutional study showed significant positive impact on metacognitive skills and self-efficacy in students.
Emma is committed to critical enquiry and reflection in relation to her own teaching, and draws on a range of evidence to continually evaluate, enhance and evolve her own practice. She engages in the scholarship of teaching and learning and has presented her work at numerous conferences and events.
Associate Professor Aideen Quilty - University Teaching Excellence Award
Throughout her academic career Associate Professor Aideen Quilty has been committed to the pursuit of social justice by harnessing the transformative potential of education. She views her undergraduate and graduate teaching in Gender Studies as a form of critical civic practice reflecting her understanding of education as a deeply political act, interconnected with our complex social lifeworlds. A core principle of her teaching practice is to structure teaching and learning sessions around a series of ‘encounters’ aimed at maximising student interactions. In nominating Aideen for an award students spoke of her as an inspiring and generous lecturer. They valued her innovative and effective approaches to teaching, the care that she took in structuring the learning process, and her ability to bring the best out of everyone in her class.
Her scholarship is interdisciplinary and draws on intersecting queer, feminist and spatial theories. Her research and teaching are inextricably linked, whereby her teaching is research-led, research-informed and research-orientated. She is a UCD Fellow in Teaching and Academic Development and procured an important collaborative, intra-institutional research project on ‘Intercultural Learning’ with a UCD colleague.
Currently the Associate Dean of Social Sciences Undergraduate Programmes, Aideen is also Director of the nationally recognized Gender Studies Community University Outreach Programme, a position she has held since 2004.
Professor Louise Rainford - University Teaching Excellence Award
Professor Louise Rainford's background is in Radiography and she is a qualified radiographer who, following a twelve-year clinical career, moved to UCD in 1992. She was appointed the Associate Dean for Radiography in 2016 and her commitment to Radiography education has led to the embedding of 2D & 3D virtual reality learning opportunities for radiography students for radiographic practice and radiation protection learning and assessment. Her efforts have supported the enhancement of traditional pedagogical practices following the introduction of immersive learning opportunities which support student learning on campus in the virtual reality suites and individual learning on personal laptops. The use of VR has broadened continuous assessment and feedback opportunities in alignment with universal design for learning principles and the developed infrastructure offers opportunities for multidisciplinary learning.
Louise is actively researching into and publishing on the impact of 3D Virtual Reality radiography practice on student performance in clinical practice, and her findings to date are very encouraging and support the case for extending the use of VR learning opportunities to other healthcare professionals. She has presented her work at international conferences, and is actively supporting other institutions at an international level through dissemination of the 2D/3D activities and the assessment strategies and grading rubrics as validated assessment methods. Louise also has an established track record of European and International Radiography collaboration.
Dr Seán Paul Teeling - University Teaching Excellence Award
Dr Seán Paul Teeling, a UCD/Mater Hospital joint appointment, is an experienced lecturer in and practitioner of process and quality improvement methodologies in health systems. An accredited person-centred cultures in healthcare facilitator, his distinctive contribution has been in researching the combined use of Quality improvement and person-centred methodologies in complex healthcare settings, with a teaching focus on developing the UCD Health Systems improvement curriculum around this research. He carried out the first study internationally in the area, most recently presenting his work on its impact on improvement educational curriculum, and application in practice, with an invited plenary in Stanford University.
Seán Paul's approach to teaching is underpinned by the person-centred principles of collaborative, inclusive and participative ways of working. He adopts creative methods of proven efficacy to facilitate diverse groups of students to engage in authentic collaboration and work together on quality improvement initiatives. In nominating Seán Paul for a teaching and learning award students spoke of his skilled facilitation of their learning journey, his engaging and interactive teaching methods, his in-depth knowledge of healthcare systems and his willingness to go above and beyond to support his students.
Seán Paul provides extensive onsite mentoring to students in clinical practice and this has been instrumental in graduates of his modules contributing to the delivery of over 200 improvement projects within the Irish healthcare system.
Dr. Ernesto Vasquez del Aguila - University Teaching Excellence Award
Dr. Ernesto Vasquez del Aguila is a medical anthropologist, Assistant Professor and Director of Teaching and Learning in UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice. Ernesto’s teaching and research focus on migration, masculinities, sexualities and global health. He believes in the importance of integrating his research and teaching activities; he designs his modules to reflect his research agenda and to engage students in these topics, while simultaneously, his research topics are shaped and informed by what happens in the classroom.
Ernesto holds a Professional Diploma in University Teaching and Learning (from UCD) and is a University for All Faculty Partner in the College of Social Science and Law. He is passionate about UDL, EDI, co-learning, and cultivating a community of learners. He has a keen interest in pedagogy and the use of technology in education and he has created several interactive and inclusive resources to engage students inside and outside the classroom.
Ernesto is committed to decolonising education, fostering intersectionality, and challenging heteronormativity in education. In nominating Ernesto for this award, colleagues and students spoke about his passion, expertise, generosity and kindness. Inclusivity is a key dimension of his pedagogical practice and this is evident in the careful selection of materials and assignments tailored to meet diverse needs, his centring of compassion in his teaching and giving of himself in order to create an environment that is more comfortable and inclusive for minority students.