Staffordshire University Professor wins prestigious teaching award

"I've had a big smile on my face since I found out! I've put a lot of hard work into my research and teaching for many years so it’s really nice to be recognised in this way."

Fiona Tweed, Professor of Physical Geography

An international expert on glaciers and natural hazards has been recognised for her innovative research-engaged teaching at Staffordshire University.

Fiona Tweed, Professor of Physical Geography, has over 25 years' experience of collaborative field research and is recognised worldwide for her work.

She is one of only 55 educators across the UK to be awarded a National Teaching Fellowship this year by the Higher Education Academy, following a highly competitive process. A National Teaching Fellowship is the most prestigious individual award for excellence in teaching in higher education.

Fiona's claim for Fellowship focused on her design and delivery of innovative research-engaged teaching in geography, her transformative approach to fieldwork and her contributions to earth and environmental science knowledge exchange, both nationally and internationally.

She said: “I've had a big smile on my face since I found out!  I've put a lot of hard work into my research and teaching for many years so it’s really nice to be recognised in this way.”

“I strongly believe that research and teaching are connected activities. In my view, they go hand in hand so I try to involve students in research wherever possible. .”

Fiona has led many 'citizen science' field research expeditions in challenging environments in Iceland, widening participation and enabling knowledge exchange. She also devised the Geography Research Assistantship, an undergraduate module that gives students the opportunity to act as research assistants, working with staff and external clients.

Fiona's teaching is described as being “at the forefront of creative curriculum and pedagogic development”. Comments from students, which were included in her application, highlight her teaching excellence and her lasting impacts on student learning and motivation: “Fiona is herself an inspiration” and “her unbridled enthusiasm for research is irresistibly contagious, capturing the attention of every student through the vitality with which she teaches.”

She joins an active community of 750 NTFs which is active in networking, has its own conferences and exclusive access to funding.

“The award of a National Teaching Fellowships is seen as a badge of excellence which will benefit me, Geography and the University.” explained Fiona.

“Being part of the Association of National Teaching Fellows will allow me to network with other teaching practitioners and share good practice which I can bring back to the University.”

The Fellowship also includes £5000 of funding which Fiona hopes will help her disseminate her good practice further by speaking at more national and international events.

“I think it’s really important engage with people. This extra funding will help me to continue to be an enthusiastic advocate for my discipline and to represent the University.” She added.

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