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National recognition for UCLan academic

12 June 2014

Rachel Atkinson

Dr Ruth Pilkington honoured with a National Teaching Fellowship

Image: New National teaching Fellow Ruth Pilkington

An academic from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship, the most prestigious prize for excellence in higher education teaching and support for learning.

Dr Ruth Pilkington has been announced as one of only 55 higher education staff to have been awarded a Fellowship from the Higher Education Academy.

The successful National Teaching Fellows were chosen from more than 180 nominations submitted by higher education institutions across England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Each will receive an award of £10,000 which will be used to support their professional development in teaching and learning or aspects of pedagogy.

“It’s a prestigious award and therefore a great honour to be recognised in this way. I’ve been working in this area of teaching for nearly 20 years so it feels like all of my hard work has paid off.”

Dr Ruth Pilkington began lecturing in languages and has developed the communicative and active learning characteristic of languages into the mainstay of her current work as an academic developer based in the School of Education and Social Sciences.

She developed specialisms through national project leadership in language learning and employability, and disseminated her work through conference papers, workshops and the Staff and Educational Development Association. Invited to lead the Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education at UCLan, she now applies her skills in assessment, professional education and activity-based, reflective learning as leader of a suite of professional education programmes. She also leads the University’s Pedagogic Research Forum which holds an annual conference and has a monthly programme of speakers and exchange events for sharing and building excellence through learning and teaching scholarship.

Ruth said: “I am thrilled to receive this Fellowship. It’s a prestigious award and therefore a great honour to be recognised in this way. I’ve been working in this area of teaching for nearly 20 years so it feels like all of my hard work has paid off.”

Her approach to teaching and learning focuses on a dialogic approach using processes of deliberative reflection and the concept of critical professionalism, through which practitioners are encouraged to engage in enhancement of practice through scholarship and research.

She has gained a national profile for her research and innovative use of dialogue as a means of assessing and recognising the professional learning of academics in higher education. This has been adopted by a number of institutions for their continued professional development frameworks and resulted in national recognition and external work.

“Our students deserve the best possible learning experience and it is colleagues like those we celebrate today who can make a real difference to their futures.”

Ruth’s development and support of others emphasises facilitation, collaboration and active commitment to professionalism in HE and she motivates and inspires others to do the same.

She has recently co-authored a book with Yvon Appleby, a retired UCLan colleague, entitled Developing Critical Professional Practice in Education, NIACE.

The scheme is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland, and is open to staff whose teaching or support roles enhance the student learning experience at institutions in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Successful nominees were nominated by their institutions and submissions had to show evidence of three criteria: individual excellence, raising the profile of excellence and developing excellence.

Professor Craig Mahoney, Chief Executive of the HEA, said: “The 55 new National Teaching Fellows announced today are all an inspiration to me. They have each made a significant impact on the teaching at their own institution, and many of them even further afield. With NTFs from across all the Mission Groups and from each of the three participating countries of the UK – England, Northern Ireland and Wales – I am sure the new NTFs will also be an inspiration to their peers.

“Becoming a National Teaching Fellow is a great honour and will undoubtedly lead to many new and exciting challenges, but I believe that it is students who will benefit most from these awards. Our students deserve the best possible learning experience and it is colleagues like those we celebrate today who can make a real difference to their futures. I congratulate all the successful Fellows and wish them every success in their own learning and teaching experiences.”