Research-informed Teaching Awards
This prestigious annual award was introduced in 2013 to recognise and celebrate Loughborough academics who have demonstrated excellence in research-informed teaching.
Awards now closed
RiTA selection process:
Each school is invited to submit nominations for the Research-informed Teaching Awards to a University selection process. Applications must receive supporting comments from their Dean of School or nominee before being submitted to the Secretary of the University Selection Panel in Organisational Development.
The Teaching Awards are open again in February 2023, please look out for more information at the beginning of the year. If you have an idea that you are considering for an application please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
2022 Winners - Previous Recipients
This prestigious award recognises and celebrates excellence in research-informed teaching at Loughborough University. This year the award goes to:
Dr Iris Wigger (School of Social Sciences and Humanities)
Dr Iris Wigger was awarded a RITA under the categories of expertise in curriculum design by fostering greater links between research and teaching, and expertise in the use of learning experience to develop students as researchers. Iris has contributed significantly to LU’s outstanding UG Sociology programme designing and delivering several research informed modules. Within the module ‘Race and racism in modern society’ Iris has used research to create interactive learning spaces in which students can gain knowledge, discuss and critically reflect on discourses of ‘race’ and racism in Modern society. Students are encouraged to share their own experiences, gather first hand experiences on how to research discourses of ‘race’ and discuss strategies on challenging racisms and ‘intersectional stereotyping’ in society.
Iris’s innovative approach is further evidenced in the development of modules and learning activities that are highly interactive and research focused. Students are invited to work together, using their own research and critical sociological analysis skills to examine and discuss an issue linked to the lecture topic of the week. Sources range from images to newspaper articles, or an imperial poem like ‘The White Man’s burden’. Student engagement and feedback from these hands-on DIY research activities has been excellent.
Iris is also using her research on racialised inequalities and social exclusion to proactively promote critical awareness and drive research-inspired anti-racist pedagogy and teaching innovation at LU more widely.
Sharon Cook (School of Design and Creative Arts)
Sharon Cook was awarded a RITA under the categories of expertise in curriculum design by fostering greater links between research and teaching, and expertise in the use of learning experience to develop students as researchers. Sharon sits astride the Design and Human Factors / Ergonomics specialisms within the School of Design and Creative Arts and has developed research expertise in physical simulation approaches. The education of future researchers and practitioners in human-facing activities requires a User-Centred approach and this must be grounded in empathy. Sharon’s teaching provides this empathy through the novel development of wearable simulations of ill-health conditions which provide healthy users with raised awareness of the symptoms and their impacts on daily living.
In the Occupational Ergonomics module, which focuses on the design of the working environment in relation to human physical health, Sharon presents a case study of her own research into the Occupational Health (OH) of older construction workers, culminating in the application of the OH wearable simulations of dermatitis, noise-induced hearing loss and lower back disorders. This experiential approach to learning through the use of simulations provides students with a hands-on understanding of different conditions affecting workers, supported by evidence from extensive research. Students respond extremely well to these opportunities and feedback is always excellent.
Sharon’s experiential learning simulations have been applied across Schools; within other Universities and under licence as industry training. Through this exposure, students’ gain insights that have a life-long impact on their understanding and perspective of the needs and limitations of others. When combined with digital simulations and empirical research, students are equipped with an array of research informed knowledge and research-led applications that ensure they can flourish as practitioners and future researchers.
RiTA winners 2021
Dr Christopher Kay (School of Social Sciences and Humanities)
Dr Christopher Kay was awarded a RITA under the category of expertise in curriculum design by fostering greater links between research and teaching within modules such as UG Rehabilitation and Recovery SSC201. Within this module Christopher introduced the innovative research informed activity ‘Client video diaries’ which encourages greater student engagement with the lived experience of rehabilitation and recovery. Christopher was also awarded under the category of developing students as researchers as demonstrated in the teaching of Criminal Justice where students learn how to research and evaluate the impact of contemporary criminal justice policy and practice and how to obtain the necessary information to undertake this analysis.
Dr Michael Skey (School of Social Sciences and Humanities)
Dr Michael Skey was awarded a RITA under the category of expertise in curriculum design, fostering synergies between teaching and research demonstrated in the Part B module, Communication and Sport. This research informed approach has blended aspects of theory and practice in relation to the study and production of sport media and has generated an enthusiastic response among students, many of whom have gone on to research the topic in their final year projects and, subsequently, postgraduate studies.
Michael’s work to develop students as researchers is shown through the application of a novel approach, called performative participatory research, in the classroom. An example of this approach was the organisation of a mock press conference involving a high-profile international rugby player where the students were able to develop both their research and journalistic skills, whilst also reflecting on the importance of such events in the promotion of particular sports and players.
Dr Thomas Thurnell-Read (School of Social Sciences and Humanities)
Dr Thomas Thurnell-Read was awarded a RITA under the category of expertise in curriculum design, fostering links between teaching and research as demonstrated within the module Intoxication and Society. In addition to incorporating case studies drawn from his own empirical research within the module there is also creative assessment design aimed at enhancing student abilities in sourcing, evaluating and communicated information from a range of sources, standpoints and formats. This assessment includes a weekly group blog shared with peers and problem sets which students respond to through the application of theories and concepts to life-like scenarios via evidence-based decision making. Thomas has also made a significant and sustained contribution to effective and engaging social research methods training for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.
RiTA winners 2020
Lara Alcock (Mathematics Education Centre)
Dr Lara Alcock was awarded her RiTA under the category of expertise in curriculum design for her work on active learning and engagement in lectures using methods derived from her research in mathematics education and the psychology of learning. Lara was also awarded under the category of expertise in pedagogical research, action research, evaluation and dissemination activities that enhance teaching and learning, evidenced in the creation of local Teaching Groups and internal Learning and Teaching events, promoting discussion on subject-specific teaching with peers of different levels of experience. Nationally, Lara speaks regularly on giving engaging lectures and has produced research-informed study guides for students.
Ash Casey (School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences)
Dr Ash Casey was awarded a RiTA under the category of expertise in curriculum design and expertise in pedagogical research, action research, evaluation and dissemination activities that enhance teaching and learning. Within the PGCE in PE at Loughborough Ash has embedded cutting edge research and practice whilst also using flipped learning and social media within teaching. Ash uses innovative resources and platforms to share research with students, for example, separating students into jigsaw groups (a cooperative learning strategy) and asking them to consult resources like The Physical Education Practitioner Research Network (PEPRN) blog prior to in-class discussions. Ash has also established a Teaching and Pedagogy Group in the School and has disseminated practice internally, nationally and at an international level.
Clare Hutton (School of Social Sciences and Humanities)
Dr Clare Hutton was awarded a RiTA under the category of expertise in curriculum design by the fostering of synergies between teaching and innovative research in the field of digital literary scholarship particularly in the modules EAA200: How to Do Things with Digital Texts and EAB001: From FanFiction to YouTube: Navigating the Digital Literary Sphere. Students are challenged to consider the underpinning rationale and methodology of literary scholarship through the introduction and use of a range of software with teaching taking place in the ‘literature lab’. Clare was also awarded for expertise in the use of the learning experience to help develop students as researchers with the assessment components of a ‘digital workbook’ and an active research focused presentation.
Chris Wilson (School of Business and Economics)
Dr Chris Wilson was awarded a RiTA under the criteria of expertise in i) curriculum design fostering synergies between teaching and research, and ii) pedagogical research, action research, evaluation and dissemination activities that enhance teaching and learning. In terms of curriculum design, Chris has created economics classroom experiments to prompt students to participate in decision-making games in order to illustrate aspects of economic theory and allow students to engage with economic environments first-hand. In terms of pedagogical research and dissemination activities, Chris co-founded a community of practice, the “SBE Teaching Forum”, and analysed its impact.
RiTA winners 2019
Dr Ian Jones for his expertise in curriculum design and pedagogical research, for his work on improving the quality of online mathematical assessments, in his development and wide dissemination of content for STACK (System for Teaching and Assessment using a Computer-algebra Kernel). STACK allows students to enter mathematical syntax at the computer and enables research-informed automated tests that offer a number of advantages over traditional online formats including improved variety and validity of tests and the personalisation of instantaneous feedback by detecting known common student errors.
Professor Sandie Dann for her expertise in curriculum design, for her work on interactive teaching of solid state science, including her involvement in progressing virtual reality teaching projects which have been disseminated beyond Chemistry, and her expertise in pedagogical research, for her work in the area of assessment design and academic integrity. Sandie used research-informed methods to improve consistency, to highlight the importance of good assessment design to prevent academic misconduct and she worked in partnership with the LSU to raise student awareness of the consequences of academic misconduct.
Dr Sarah Mills for her expertise in curriculum design, for her work embedding primary research-informed teaching within the delivery of existing taught human geography modules and her expertise in the use of the learning experience to help develop students as researchers for her work which positions first-year geography students as future researchers. This research design task utilises social media at Part A to coincide with Part B and C research proposal and dissertation deadlines in order to frame students as developing researchers within a three-year degree programme.
RiTA winners 2018
Dr Mark Everitt for this expertise in pedagogical research for his work on disseminating the outcomes of the Quantum Systems engineering (QSE) research project and for developing the learning experience associated with teaching quantum physics to develop students as potential researchers.
Dr Mike Waring for this expertise in pedagogical resaerch and curriculum design, for his work on developing a research-informed project to develop assessment literacy, feedback and design in students and staff and for leading its rollout across the School.
RiTA winners 2017
Prof Katherine Gough (SSPGS) for her expertise in pedagogical research which demonstrated clear evidence of her expertise and the impact she has had over a sustained period of time as well as the positive impact on students’ learning.
Dr Hao Xia (AACME) also for his expertise in pedagogical research and the impact he has had on student learning.
Dr John Hillier (SSPGS) also for his expertise in pedagogical research and the impact he has had on student learning.
Dr Thomas Page (LDS) for his expertise in curriculum design which demonstrated how he has also made an impact on student learning over a sustained period of time.
RiTA winners 2016
Dr Line Nyhagen(Department of Social Sciences)
Line was awarded a RiTA for among other things her expertise in curriculum design which forges links between her research and her teaching.
Dr Cheryl Travers (School of Business and Economics)
Cheryl is the Director of Executive Education and awarded a RiTA for her expertise in pedagogical research which has had significant impact on student learning over a sustained period of time.
Dr Heike Jons (Department of Geography)
Heike was awarded her RiTA for demonstrating expertise in curriculum design which enables her students to benefit directly from her research over a range of modules.
RiTA winners 2015
Dr Jo Harris (Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences)
Jo is recognised worldwide for her expertise in pedagogical research focusing on the teaching of health within school physical education. Alongside her contributions to academic journals and conferences Jo has authored evidence-based national guidelines on the teaching of health-related exercise (HRE) in schools and produced resources for National PE Professional Development programmes in England and Wales. She has used this expertise to develop Loughborough’s PGCE teacher training course into a Master’s degree programme. This transition required amendments to the content, delivery and assessment of the PGCE course in order to develop students’ Masters level skills and included a complete revision of the PGCEs core modules. Jo’s dedication and excellence in her teaching has most recently been recognised by the Higher Education Academy following her attainment of Principal Fellowship.
Dr Jonathan Millett (Social, Political and Geographical Sciences)
Jonathon has developed his taught Part C module ‘Forest Ecology’ into a research/consultancy project which mimics his own research process. Students are tasked with undertaking a carbon audit of a forest for which they must make measurements, analyse the data collected and make links to broader forest processes. Jonathan has endeavoured to develop students as researchers in other areas, both at degree level through his dissertation module and at A-level through participation in the Nuffield Foundation Summer Research Placement Scheme. The Nuffield Foundation Summer Research Placements is a scheme for students hoping to undertake a degree in STEM. Jonathan hosted two students for 5 weeks each in the summer of 2014 with both working closely with him on two projects. With Jonathan acting as a guide throughout the students planned studies, collected data and then communicated their findings by writing a final report and by producing a poster for an end of programme event similar to a research conference.
Professor Memis Acar (Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering)
In 2012, Memis designed and initiated a new research module (Advanced Engineering Research) in the Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering with the aim of supporting Part D MEng students develop the skills necessary for further study at Doctoral level. Enrolled students are supervised throughout and afforded a number of seminars on research methods, technical report and journal paper writing to foster the knowledge and skills relevant to their research activities. Their final report is written in the form of a journal paper with the expectation being that the paper will be nearly ready to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. Memis also initiated the ENSURE Scheme which provides engineering undergraduates across the UK an opportunity to gain research experience at Loughborough University during the summer prior to their final year. Its success has led to the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) establishing its own countrywide ‘Vacation Bursary Scheme’.
Dr Duncan Walker (Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering)
Duncan has used use his own research in applied aerodynamics to bring real world examples into the classroom environment. His 4th year Experimental Fluids Mechanics (EFM) module is constructively aligned to take the students through all phases of experimentation including planning and design, analysis and presentation of results and application of different measurement techniques. Duncan illustrates each stage of the process using relevant case studies taken from his own and colleague’s research and combines this with practical activities and assessments. Furthermore, students are provided hands-on experience of experimental techniques usually confined to postgraduate study. In one instance, students are given a tour and practical demonstration of Rolls-Royce UTC's complex test facility. This not only provides students a practical demonstration of material discussed in lectures but also generates the data they analyse in subsequent coursework assignments.
RiTA winners 2014
Dr Marcus Collins (Social, Political and Geographical Sciences)
Through application of his own pedagogic research Marcus has looked to develop both his teaching practice and his students as engaged researchers. He has taken a leading role in the development of the newly established single honours History programme in collaboration with two student researchers. Within E-learning Marcus has innovated the use lecture capture, pre-recorded lectures, automated attendance, exam hotlines, audio feedback and electronic voting. His final-year module on The Beatles and the 1960s sees students conducting their own research and ultimately contributing to the literature through online publication. Marcus is widely published and a frequent contributor to national teaching conferences and workshops.
Professor Jo Bullard (Social, Political and Geographical Sciences)
Jo has applied the techniques used in her own research to engage students in the area of aeolian geomorphology. Students are asked to examine sand samples from aeolian deposits collected by Jo before describing and classifying them. They are then exposed to videos of particles of different sizes and shapes moving under the influence of the wind (filmed by Jo and colleagues for research purposes) to better understand the influence of small-scale changes on larger scale processes. Additionally, drawing on her research on the impact of dust in the Earth’s system, Jo has innovated use of the web-based NASA tool ‘Giovanni’. This tool allows students to download satellite data, identify dust concentration in the atmosphere and produce animations to show how a dust storm develops. By redesigning her module in such a way Jo has enabled students to become active partners in their learning.
Professor Malcolm Cook (Civil and Building Engineering)
Having developed the programmes curriculum Malcolm is currently Programme Director for the MSc in Low Carbon Building Design and Modelling (LCBDM). Malcom has created a programme thoroughly informed by research, from its conception to its intended learning outcomes. For example, one important aspect of the course relates to commissioning. To demonstrate the process of developing and testing a commissioning strategy Malcolm undertook a research project in partnership with architects Short and Associates. Alongside the published papers the project produced DVDs were created to demonstrate the commissioning process, providing students the best possible insight into the challenges and methods of commissioning innovative, low energy buildings. Another key aspect of the LCBDM programme is the requirement that students prepare a conference paper providing them experience of presenting their work in front of other MSc students and industry.
RiTA winners 2013
Professor Jonathan Chambers (Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering)
Jonathan restructured the teaching of digital signal processing (DSP) within the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering in 2007. He then introduced a new MSc programme entitled Signal Processing in Digital Communication Systems and obtained support from Texas Instruments, the foremost manufacturer of signal processing devices, to open a dedicated Real-Time DSP Lab within the School of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering in 2011.
These state-of-the-art signal processing development tools have allowed him to enhance his teaching by generating assignments to develop programming and evaluation skills, and he has used industrially-informed research problems to engage his students.
Professor Barbara Jaworski (Maths Education Centre)
Most of Barbara’s research has focused on the teaching of mathematics and its development at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Teaching at the University has provided her with the opportunity to extend these studies to her own teaching and that of her colleagues
Design of mathematical tasks, teaching approaches and research methodology is central, with Barbara applying and extending theoretical perspectives used at other levels. She works particularly with inquiry approaches in three layers: students’ learning of mathematics, teachers’ teaching of mathematics and the developmental research process. For example, a research project, Engineering Students Understanding Mathematics studied an innovation into mathematics teaching for first year engineers involving inquiry approaches and computer-based learning environments.
This research promoted developmental practice, fed back to the teaching team and created new knowledge in the field of university mathematics teaching.
Dr Carol Robinson (Maths Education Centre)
Carol has taught at Loughborough University since 2003 and specialises in mathematics for engineering students.
Many Loughborough students have a passion for sport and Carol has utilised research into Mathematics in Sport to motive and enthuse students. First year students encountered topics such as the Duckworth-Lewis model for one-day cricket, modelling of the pulse-rate of long-distance runners and downhill skiing.
Carol has pioneered the use of electronic voting systems at the University and undertaken research demonstrating the much improved in-class engagement of students. She formed and led an electronic voting systems staff interest group, with over 40 staff members.
Dr Adrian Spencer (Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering).
Adrian led the development of several laboratories to reinforce applied thermodynamics modules and enhance undergraduate teaching and learning. This was largely done by final year project students working on applied scale facilities rather than bench top demonstrators. It provides two facets: engaging project work for final year project students while also delivering improved teaching facilities and learning experiences.
The development of two Masters modules has also demonstrated the use of inquiry-based learning in terms of developing students as researchers. This is particularly true for ‘Propulsion Design for the Environment’ where students must lead their research and learning for a successful outcome.