Meet Glasgow Uni’s favourite lecturers
Were any of your lecturers nominated?
We asked students at the University of Glasgow their favourite lecturers and these were the lecturers nominated for the prestigious title. This past year has been tough for everyone and we felt that the lecturers deserved to be appreciated. Let’s meet them!
Willy Maley, English Literature
“Like most lecturers, I was a student once, and the lecturers I remember most, my favourites, were passionate about their subject and wanted to pass on that same enjoyment, engagement and enthusiasm. Lecturing is one of my favourite things and in twenty-seven years of teaching at Glasgow I’ve given hundreds of them. Every lecture is special and each one is as scary as the first. Even after all these years the heart still pounds as the class files into the lecture theatre. Speaking live to so many bright minds, trying to convey your knowledge with energy and insight, is always a fresh challenge. I’ve never understood those who see teaching as secondary to research. For me lecturing is a core activity, a constant. Why was I nominated? You’d have to ask the students who put my name forward. What I can say is that I take the views of students very seriously indeed. Their opinion matters a great deal to me, especially after the year we’ve just had. I’ve been so impressed, and moved, by the resilience and generosity they’ve shown. In all my time at Glasgow I’ve really valued the richness and diversity of our students. The University is nothing without them. This nomination, and the Innovative Teaching Award I got at the Glasgow Student Awards in 2014, will be the things I remember when I finally retire.”
Ashley Le Vin, Zoology and Marine and Freshwater Biology
“It is lovely to have heard that I have been nominated for Glasgow’s Favourite Lecturer – so thank you so much to those who nominated me! I usually turn to sarcasm and self-deprecation when talking about myself so thinking about why I have been nominated does not come naturally to me. I guess I try to make my lectures as inviting and inclusive as possible. I like to use some humour to try and put students at ease and encourage them to ask questions and interact during the lecture. I also use quizzes and videos to try to consolidate and assess learning whilst also keeping things interesting. This year the students made good use of the chat function on Zoom to not only ask questions but also to interject some friendly banter which I could interact with to lighted the lecture mood. My four year old daughter, dog and guinea pigs making guest appearances (mostly unintentional) also I think helped students to see me as just another person who they could interact and chat with. Without such a great bunch of engaged students though I don’t think the lectures would have been quite so much fun – so thank you!”
Robert Cowan, Philosophy
“I think I was nominated partly because of my enthusiasm about teaching philosophy. I genuinely believe that philosophy is an invaluable tool that everyone has the potential to benefit from using, not just at university but in everyday life. So when I’m teaching, I try to make the material as accessible and engaging as I can so as to reach the widest audience. Another reason why I think I was nominated is because my classes are genuinely interactive, involving lots of student participation. The best way to get good at philosophy is to do philosophy, so I don’t just talk at students in my classes in the hope that they’ll remember something. Instead, I try to cultivate a fun and relaxed atmosphere where students feel comfortable interacting with me and their peers.”
Peter Sneddon, Physics
“It’s very flattering to be nominated as Glasgow’s Favourite Lecturer. Lecturing is the part of my work at the University that I most enjoy, and get the most satisfaction from. As all students know, in Higher Education the onus is really on the student to take the lead in their learning, supported in the best possible ways by the staff teaching them. You cannot learn everything in a course just by attending a lecture; it starts with the lecture, but extra work needs to be carried out afterwards to allow you to properly understand the material. What I try to do in all my lectures, is make my students *want* to go on and do that extra work they need to do to reach the highest level they possibly can. In many ways, a lecture is a performance, and I try to make mine as engaging and (hopefully) entertaining as possible, so that when it is time for them to do the follow-on work, they approach the work from a positive point of view. It is important to me that all my students – wherever they sit on the academic spectrum – believe they have the chance to understand their work. That self-belief is key, I believe, to anyone’s success. And if my lectures mean students begin their own learning from that position of positive self-belief then I have done my job properly.”
John Shackleton, Mechanical Design
“Many thanks for the nomination for Glasgow’s Favourite Lecturer. Perhaps, being a lecturer in mechanical design, I have an unfair advantage; whilst my colleagues have the hard graft of delivering all the theoretical underpinnings, (without which… etc., etc,), design is where you have the fun of putting it all together. Or perhaps it’s because we occasionally pull things apart. Or maybe it’s Statistical Process Control, because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love statistics? Or perhaps the clue is in my favourite bit of student feedback from last year, “(Dr Shackleton) …makes this subject far more interesting than it really is”.
Kathleen Riach, Organisation Studies
“This is such a lovely surprise – it’s been a really tough year for the students and I’ve been continually amazed and inspired at how they have worked through everything and remained so committed to learning and having the best experience of university they can have. I’m lucky enough that I teach courses where we can draw on current circumstances surrounding Covid to reflect on broader ideas in the curriculum surrounding workplace diversity, wellbeing and inequalities, and this has given lots of opportunity to reflect and hear about their own experiences. I love hearing about how various theories and approaches make them think not only about the future manager and leader they should be, but also the kind of person and citizen they want to be. I am also forever grateful that they didn’t mind when my 3 and 6 year old ‘zoom bombed’ online lectures during lockdown! When I told them I’d been nominated, they insisted that instead of a photo I send a copy of me working with their heads in the background, which is a pretty accurate reflection of what the students saw this year!”
Gethin Norman, Computing Science
“I think I have been nominated because I tried to do what I could to help everyone get through what has been an extremely challenging year. I realised that students were one of the groups hit the hardest over the past year, and therefore realised the importance of being there to listen and help, checking up on those who were having difficulties, being understanding and proactive when issues arose. For my lectures, for the online sessions I tried to keep things interesting by adding background stories, using a white board and explaining how things relate to my research. For the videos I tried to to keep these short and well structured, while also being available to help with understanding when needed. What certainly helps is that I enjoy the courses that I teach. I would also like to take this chance to say well done to everyone for getting through the last academic year.”
Chiara Horlin, Psychology
Mark Wong, Social and Public Policy
“I am absolutely delighted and humbled to receive the nomination for The Tab’s Glasgow’s Favourite Lecturer. I’ve always given my 100 per cent and gone above and beyond to support students and show that I believe in their abilities to do whatever they want to do and achieve. My interactions with students are always based on a genuine sense of care for their wellbeing. I’ve made sure that I am approachable, make student felt listened to, respond to emails and queries as quickly as I can, and always put myself in the student’s shoes to understand what I can do more to help. One of the biggest highlights for me this year was supporting several students who almost dropped out from a course to getting As and feeling proud of what they’ve achieved, with lots of encouraging words and being as supportive and flexible as I can. I also appreciated hearing students saying they have enjoyed the engaging format and “real-world” application of my teaching, especially using problem-based learning and simulating a policy workplace environment in tutorials, e.g. working in policy teams, writing briefing notes and blog posts, and presenting policy recommendations to a minister and senior civil servants. Students have come back saying they were able to talk about this experience in an interview, and ultimately giving them the edge to secure a job/internship. I am also an enthusiast in using technology to enhance student’s learning. I’ve co-designed new smartphone apps with computer science students to improve feedback and developed cutting-edge Virtual Reality (VR) tools in teaching data visualisation to social science students.”
Pedro Miguel Parreira, Physics
Matt Dawson, Sociology
“A huge thanks to the people who nominated me. This last year with covid and teaching via Zoom things have been quite different, but what has remained the same is the joy that comes from discussing sociology with the wonderful students we have here at Glasgow. I’m delighted to have been nominated for this award by them.”
Martin Llewyn, Molecular Ecology
“I’m deeply honoured to be nominated for Glasgow’s Favourite Lecturer. This last year especially, given the challenges of connecting with students online. Why me, I wonder ? Well, I love what I do – and I hope that comes across. And I’m also lucky enough to be active in research in many of the topics I lecture on: aquaculture, tropical parasitology and the like. That way I can keep the content fresh, relevant and engaging. I’m also partial to the occasional dad joke and inane pun. Either way, it means an awful lot to get good feedback from you guys, so thanks a million!”
Diego Maria Malara, Social Anthropology
Other lecturers nominated were Emily Nordmann, Kate Lowe, Scott Roy, Calum Cossar, Stephen Watson, John Williamson, Christian Korff, Teresa Piacentini, Marc Alexander, Drew Hammond, Jim Murdoch, Fiona McGregor, Lazaros Karaliotas and Alex Marshall.