School of Physical Sciences and Computing
Computing and Technology Building, CM226
+44 (0) 1772 89 3292
Subject Areas: Computing (Software Engineering)
Nick is a software engineer by training, and has a passion for teaching. In addition to lending his engineering talents to various projects, since arriving at UCLan in 2008 Nick has established a reputation for motivating and enthusing his students. In December 2012 Nick received a Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching for creating a superlative student experience.
Before completing his PhD (investigating the properties logics for formal specification of software systems), Nick started work as a software engineer for BAE Systems at New Malden and subsequently moved to the former Marconi site at Chelmsford. He returned to academia four years later as a teaching fellow at his alma mater. Promotion to Senior Teaching Fellow swiftly followed, and a move north to UCLan saw him take up the post of Lecturer in Computer Games Development in 2008.
Students recognise the value of Nick's industrial experience and his accessible approach to teaching, consistently giving him high scores in the annual Module Evaluation exercise. Nick is involved in various software development projects with external partners which keep his industrial credentials current. Most recently (2012) he has delivered software to NASA for use in a Sounding Rocket mission, and has been invited to spend time over the summer (2013) working at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA.
Nick takes a keen interest in his students' welfare as a Personal Tutor, and in 2011 played a leading role in a project with two like-minded colleagues to radically overhaul the way Computing is presented to new First Year undergraduate students. The aim of the project was to increase students' engagement with their course - which has led to higher pass-rates at the end of the year, and fewer student withdrawals. The heart of the project involved developing "The Four Week Challenge" - an innovative approach which has generated much interest within the University and has led to invitations to present at conferences both locally and internationally.
As a result of a student nomination, Nick and the team received an award for the Four Week Challenge at the 2012 Students' Union Annual Teaching Awards ceremony. In December 2012, Nick and the team were also recipients of a Vice Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching in recognition of their work delivering the Four Week Challenge and the results it had achieved in providing a "superlative student experience".
In a recent course accreditation visit by the British Computer Society (of which Nick is a Professional member), the result of Nick's contribution to curriculum development in this area was recognised as an area of good practice within the School.
PhD Computer Science, University of Essex, 2003
BSc Computer Science, University of Essex, 1997
PG Cert. Higher Education Practice, University of Essex, 2008
UCLan Journal of Pedagogic Research
Danino, N; May, L; Mitchell, N 2013 'Reprogramming 1st Year Students: an Action Research case study' In: UCLan Journal of Pedagogic Research, Vol. 4, pp???
Mitchell, N; Danino, N; May, L 2012 'The four week challenge: a case study' In: International Association of Technology, Education and Development (IATED) Proceedings of the 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation. Madrid, Spain 19-21 November 2012
2011-12 Hi-C (NASA Hi Resolution Coronal Imager sounding rocket mission led by Marshall Space Flight Center) - Contributed post-flight image processing software. Also contributed to preparations for launch and operated pre-flight systems on launch day.
2011 Part of the project team (supported by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe) conducting research to assess the competitive advantage provided by 3D stereoscopic gaming.
2009 - 2011 SELEAG (Serious Learning And Games) European collaborative project to evaluate the use of Serious Games for learning history, culture and social relations. Contributed to the development of the TimeMesh serious game for secondary school children, and helped run workshops on game design and evaluation for teachers.
Regularly tutors on Local GRAD Schools (summer schools for PhD students)
Currently leads the following undergraduate modules:
Personal Tutor for first year undergraduates
Involved in undergraduate curriculum development
Member of the British Computer Society
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation (ICERI) 2012 Madrid:
Session Chair - Generic Skills in Curriculum Design
Poster presentation - The UCLan Sorting Hat
Oral presentation - The Four Week Challenge - a case study
European First Year Experience (EFYE) 2012 Day Event Teeside:
Poster presentation and workshop - Immersive team projects as a means to train and retain first year students
Journeys in Intercultural Understanding – Improving Internationalisation in HE (HEA Conference) 2012 Preston:
Oral presentation - The Four Week Internationalisation Challenge
SELEAG GameFest Teachers' Workshop 2011 Funchal, Madeira:
Oral presentation and workshop - Evaluating games with and for children: Conducting participatory evaluation sessions
Agile Practices Experience Day (Agile North) 2010 Preston:
Workshop - various team activities for industry professionals
UCLan Pedagogic Research Forum 2013:
Workshop - Experiencing the Four Week Challenge
UCLan School of CEPS Conference 2012:
Oral presentation - challenging and engaging students