MDXSU Teaching Awards 2016: the Winners

Thursday 14-04-2016 - 18:15
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 The third annual MDXSU Teaching Awards took place on Thursday 14th April, with students and staff from across the university gathering to celebrate excellent teaching and student-staff partnership.


The MDXSU Teaching Awards were established in 2014 to recognise and reward the incredible staff here at MDX, and are entirely student-led, from the student-submitted nominations - 1,300 this year - to the panel of student judges who have the difficult task of deciding the shortlist and winners.


Nominations are judged on content rather than the quantity, and this year were received in five individual award categories: Best Feedback, Best Support Staff, Most Innovative Teaching, Empowering Partnership and Most Inspiring Teacher - the criteria for which can be found here. This year there was also a special extra award for Outstanding Compassion which the student judges felt was needed given the strength of one particular nomination.


The powerul and moving awards ceremony was hosted by MDXSU Vice Presidents Orla Hillary and André Thompson, with the focus being on partnership between students and staff, and celebrating the quality of teaching and support at MDX.


"This year our awards are themed around partnership... championing partnership between staff and students and celebrating the world class partnership which we are lucky to have here at MDX."

- Orla Hillary, MDXSU Vice President Health & Education and Science & Technology


Following a delicious meal and the chance for students and staff to meet and chat, the awards ceremony began with a welcome from MDXSU and an opening speech from Middlesex University Vice Chancellor Tim Blackman, who spoke about his intentions for Middlesex to be world-renowned for it's teaching, and how research and teaching are not in conflict - "they're both about learning and discovering new things."


"A successful university is not just about amazing teachers or amazing students, but about the community that they create."

- Vice Chancellor Tim Blackman


Click here to view photos from the event, or read on for the shortlist and winners for each award, plus quotes from the student who nominated them:


Best Feedback

Presented by the Dean of the Business School, Anna Kyprianou, and the NUS Vice President for Higher Education, Sorana Vieru.

Frank Hills

“Frank is an excellent teacher and his feedback for my coursework helped me to achieve good grades, find out what my mistakes were and improve myself.... His guidance on writing a successful thesis report and his feedback on problem solving were excellent, which has resulted in motivating me to choose research as my career.”

“He is patient when explaining new concepts, and also gives personal feedback as well as general feedback.”

Nico Pizzolato

“Dr Nico stands out for me because he went out of his way to give immediate feedback. Often my colleague or I would receive acknowledgement of emails within minutes. When a submission or email was sent sometimes at unsociable hours, Dr Nico still responded and even though getting a late response brought feelings of guilt for disturbing him, having constructive feedback was invaluable.”

Leonidas Aristodemou

“Leo provides great feedback and analyses any code I send him at any hour of the day. He has recognised my strengths and weaknesses very well and therefore constantly tries to push me further to achieve more.”

“One of the friendliest teachers out there. I always call him Sir Leo! He really connects with his students and makes sure no one is left out, and strives to get the best out of every single one of them. He spends equal time with everyone making sure no one is lagging behind. He’s always there to answer my messages if I need something from him even though his schedule is extremely busy. A very fun loving teacher, and one of the best I have ever had.”

Jackie Meredith

“Jackie gives the best feedback, giving you a better understanding of what is expected from you. She goes through every aspect of an assignment in detail and explains clearly how one can improve their grade and what is required of them.”

“Inspiring teaching, exciting personality, enthusiastic person, deep knowledge of the subject, very explicit on what she expects, highly organised and lots of humour!”

“Jackie's  drive and enthusiasm is inspiring to her students.... Her passion to her students and her style of holding her lectures and giving out feedback is fascinating.”

And the winner for Best Feedback is...

Dr Mona Sakr, Lecturer in Education and Early Childhood

“Mona always gives positive feedback, explaining not only where you went wrong but also what you did right. Even when you go back to her with the same issue, she is more than happy to give you ample support and ensure that you understand what you are doing. With Mona's feedback, I have passed all her modules really well since secnd year.”

“In every seminar and lecture Mona is amazing, always pushing us and making lessons more interesting and interactive. We learn so much from her sessions.”


Best Support Staff

Presented by Jan Williams, the Dean of the Health and Education School, and Joe Cox, the newly elected Vice President Art & Design and Media & Performing Arts 16/17, Joe Cox.

Alex Moore

“As a Graduate Academic Assistant, Alex always goes above and beyond the call of duty. She listens to and understands each individual student's needs, and uses her considerable connections in the illustration world to provide amazing opportunities. She is constantly publicising students' work across social media and is genuinely interested in helping solve design problems. She is friendly, interested, organised and always on the ball.”

“She works so hard for us as well as doing her own freelance work. Alex is so reliable, helpful and communicative!"

Matt Cracknell

“Matt is a point of call for help and advice, always responding quickly and helpfully. Even if asked for advice regarding something he is not responsible for, Matt always goes out of his way to help students. His presence in my seminar in first year made a massive difference, and he is an invaluable member of staff.”

“Matt tirelessly helps me and so many other students with various issues with our academic work. His feedback and help with the understanding of certain topics have enabled me to achieve my best potential. His one to one system of help is why so many students go to him.”

Peter Williams

“I do not have lectures with Peter as a part of my module, but we always go to him for advice when it comes to any sound questions for our productions, and the advice is needed quite often. Every single time I go to him he has been incredibly helpful - it seems like he puts everything else aside and gives all attention to the student. We've been sat at university concerned about sound recordings, and Peter would pass by and stop for a moment and then spend two hours talking to us and giving advice, listening to the audio, explaining what to do - even though his work day finished long time ago.”

Shams Sadiqi

“He has helped me with my assignment timetable, given me advice on how to organise my workload in year three of my program and has also given me advice on how to apply to a suitable job vacancy.“

“He is very helpful whenever I visit UniHelp for my academic/admin related issues. He is very friendly and an outgoing person who helps students with their various issues and is very prompt in supporting our enquiries.“

And the winner of the Best Support Staff award is...

Steve McMahon, Sports Activator

“I can’t put into words how much Steve, or 'Stevo', has helped me throughout my time at University. Stevo goes above and beyond to help everyone. He runs a wheelchair basketball club at University and ensures students of all abilities feel welcomed and included. I was born with spinal deformities and Stevo has taken the time to research it and find out as much as he can. Now he has done that, he knows exactly how to help me excel at sport and for this, I am truly grateful.”

“Stevo has been so much help in getting inclusive sports, such as wheelchair basketball, established at the university, giving disabled students the same opportunities as non-disabled students. Without this opportunity I wouldn't have met the great group of students I now play wheelchair sports with, and I also wouldn’t know about the help I can get from the University.”


Special Award for Outstanding Compassion

Richard Barry, Senior Lecturer in the Psychology Department

This award was presented by MDXSU president Aman Siddiqi and amazing third-year student Amy Lucas, who gave a powerful and emotional speech acknowleding the overwhelming support and compassion Amy received from a particular member of staff at Middlesex. 

"Richard talked me through referring modules and kept me going when I felt like giving up... He made the effort to reach out and always had time for me. He inspired me to discover my passion for psychology and recognise skills I didn't realise I had. Thanks to Richard I'm on track for a first, will be coming back to Middlesex to complete my Masters, and I'll be leaving university with a purpose I didn't arrive with."


Most Innovative Teaching

Presented by Middlesex University Vice Chancellor Tim Blackman, and the newly elected President of MDXSU 16/17, Suliaman Lkaderi.

Elliot Schatzberger

"Elliot's Law of Contract lectures have been interesting, funny and the highlight of my first year of studying at Middlesex University. Elliot uses memorable and current examples that help me to remember cases and important facts - such as the Taylor Swift Clause! It's these small things that make his lectures interesting and makes it much easier for me to remember important things."

"Elliot has always been so enthusiastic when teaching Contract Law. In his lectures everyone is on top of the subject and listens to his talks. He never lets a lecture go down without a few laughs, especially when he changes his voice for different roles when explaining a case.

"Very interactive teacher who breaks down problems through daily life and allows us to make a firm understanding of he topic in the most hilarious ways. His seminars are interactive and enable everyone to ask question.

Dr Emma Dowling

I want to nominate Emma because she goes beyond her classroom to help us learn the importance of social movements. Emma doesn't just teach a subject, she shares her passion, which make the class and learning that much better. Emma brings different ways of learning into the classroom, from guest lectures, workshops, field trips and great discussions. Her classes are always very interactive - the classroom is never really silent unless it's supposed to be!

Nathalie Van Meurs

"Nathalie is the most innovative teacher I've ever met and should be a role model for other teachers. Her extremely interesting lectures often feature business related videos, which help her to keep all students focused."

"She is fully committed in ensuring that the students understand the lecture and her seminars are the most interactive seminars I've ever been in. Students debate with one another openly without the need for a right or wrong appreciate."

"Some of the lectures are recorded and available online, and seminar materials included videos and negotiation game. 

Dr Reza Gholami

"Reza makes learning fun for all of his students through group debates, group reading and giving everyone in the class as much support as they need. I look forward to attending his seminars and lectures every week. He should be rewarded for his excellent teaching skills and his understanding of each student's individual needs."

I enjoy attending Reza's lectures and seminars as they're well planned, very interactive and easy to understand, and he uses the best teaching methods."

"Reza provided a book club for his students... He also gives extra one-to-one support sessions for assignments."

And the winner of the Most Innovative Teaching award is...

Dr David Westley, Director of Programmes for Counselling & Psychotherapy

"He manages to make all subjects interesting, regardless of how exciting the topic is! He creates this energy in class that makes you want to hear and learn every word he is saying. He involves the class with activities and funny, interesting ways and creates different methods of learning other than just a Powerpoint - plus every lecture starts with cookies, and it doesn't get much better than that... Whenever you need help with anything, he is always there to help in any way he can, regardless of the problem and he never makes you feel any less for needing help or asking 'stupid' questions."

"His lectures are a 'never miss' for his students and always very much enjoyed!"

"I find his lectures very motivating and interactive. David makes the dullest of themes intriguing and makes a lecture which ends at 7pm a joy to attend. He has very good teaching skills and is very down to earth and supportive."

"In order to illustrate eye witness events, David arranged for another colleague to run through the lecture theatre and throw a plate of foam at him... We were in total shock, saddened that such an engaged lecturer should experience such an event. He said, wiping off some of the foam: 'you have all just witnessed a terrible crime and I will need your help later in identifying the individual who did this". We were all in silence, and it was not until he took a towel out of his bag that we realised that he had known about this. In investing himself like this he truly made the lecture on Memory "memorable" and I feel that such personal investment should be acknowledged.


Empowering Partnership

Presented by Director of Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Jacqui Boddington and Vice President Business and Law Sayed Alkadiri.

Alechia Van Wyk

“Alechia is an inspirational, motivational, amazing member of staff who makes my time at Middlesex worthwhile. She’s extremely supportive and drives me to do my best, and needs to be recognised and rewarded. Without Alechia my time at Middlesex would have been a struggle. She is a truly amazing woman.”

Julie Moody

“Julie has gone out of her way to encourage students to push themselves and engage with their profession. From encouraging students to apply for the Cavell scholarship and offering to write references, she genuinely tries her hardest to engage and support. Students gave feedback about wanting more mental health input on adult and child field courses, so I sent Julie an email, and by the next day I'd received a reply of "no problem, we’ll factor it into your seminars this year"! She is genuinely approachable, has a fantastic personality and incredible work ethic. Her professionalism is unquestionable and she is an asset to both the university and the profession.”

Theresa Cronin

“Theresa is the type of teacher who not only demands quality work, but inspires her students to achieve their highest potential. Her passion, enthusiasm, and deep knowledge of her subject area creates a forum for learning in her classroom. Every student has different educational needs, and Theresa understands the classroom represents a diversity of talents and interests, and engages her student audience to the best of their individual abilities and talents. Her assignments and teaching style are intensive but malleable as to allow for student input and mutual learning, and also providing students with the opportunity of self-directed education. As a mature student, I've found Theresa very approachable and enabling during my re-entry into the world of academia, and I've witnessed first-hand the spark and verve she brings to her classrooms. I'm nominating Theresa because of the passion and quality she brings to her teaching, and the motivation for excellence she stirs in her students. “

Marcos Patchett

“Marcos is completely committed to getting the best from his students. He works tirelessly to make us the best we can be and encourages us to attain the highest levels of competence and professionalism in our work. He consistently goes above and beyond what is required of him as a lecturer and provides an empowering learning partnership that supports students to gain confidence in their craft and a high level of knowledge in the field of herbal medicine.”

And the winner of the Empowering Partnership award is...

Dr Carmel Clancy, Head of Mental Health, Social Work and Interprofessional Learning

“Carmel's input into this year’s inter-professional symposium has been absolutely fantastic. Both Carmel's knowledge and experience have come across well during her sessions on Mental Health. The realism and objectivity of her sessions made it so easy to relate to the topic at hand. This innovative approach to enable partnership across the fields within the School of Health & Education has been fantastic. Thanks to the partnership with Carmel the Nursing Society at Middlesex are now looking at new and innovative ways of bringing more cross-platform and cross-field teaching and awareness sessions to students studying all aspects of nursing and midwifery. Carmel is a very approachable, knowledgeable, friendly and passionate academic and I am really looking forward to working more with her to build stronger partnerships within the school, and across our diverse fields of education here at Middlesex.”


Most Inspiring Teacher

Presented by Chancellor Dame Janet Ritterman and the newly elected Vice President Business and Law 16/17 Katie Dragomirova. While all categories were very tough to judge, this award received the most nominations and the student panel found it particularly difficult to select just one winner - resulting in two winners this year!

Dr Noha Saleeb

“Dr Saleeb has created an incredibly inspiring course (MSc BIM Management) that is making waves in the construction industry and is widely recognised as being the best course in the field. Her work ethic and conscientiousness are second to none. I have gained a great deal form the course and for from her knowledge.”

“She encouraged me to stay on the course and carry on studying despite struggling with the workload... I am so pleased I didn't give up and followed her advice.”

Elliot Schatzberger

“He is very supportive and professional and makes sure every student understands his lectures [which are] very interesting and include lots of examples and details.”

“Elliot is an incredible educator. So inspiring and motivating… He has spent time and energy to encourage a 'struggling' student not to give up the course. He had belief in the student, who thanks to Elliot has remained on the course and is doing very well.”

Francois Evans

“This teacher is such an inspiration to me. He will always go out of his way to help me, and go beyond what a teacher should. …  For example, the other day I was very stressed out about writing a composition and I told him I was struggling with it. He made me say 'I can do this' and helped me decide and have a starting point for the assignment. I then went to get some air as I needed to break to relax again and when I walked back into the lesson he told me I was an important and special student. This is so special to me and shows the pure and real commitment to his students and as a professor. Teachers like François are rare, and his passion and love for teaching really shines through in every single lecture.”

“He is literally the best funniest lecturer I have ever met. He always makes sure you understand before he moves on.”

The joint winners of Most Inspiring Teacher 2016...

Dr Emma Dowling, Senior Lecturer in Sociology

“Dr Emma Dowling always motivates students to achieve to the maximum level in order for us to succeed. She allows her students to voice their thoughts… [and] her teaching skills keeps all students so engaged. She is a creative teacher and most of all inspiring.”

“Emma has taken the class on countless field trips, from the Marx memorial museum where we had front row seats to a talk by Klaus Dorre, to the Southbank Centre where we were present for a book talk! Emma's for teaching Sociology and her modules is really evident. She has helped us explore new areas of study, new topics and new places of sociological interest. Aside from this, there have been several guests lecturers who have come to speak to our class, from 'Take Back the City', to a Guardian journalist - providing us with both interesting and informing lectures, but also giving us the opportunity to get involved and ask questions for those who are interested in a similar career path.”

Dr Christine Eastman, Senior Lecturer in Work Based Learning

“She has successfully challenged our group to step outside of our comfort zone and explore beyond where many of us thought our research would take us. In addition to the creativity Christine has been a rock of support to the entire group, tirelessly working with us either in a group or one to one. Dr Eastman has made my time at the University both challenging and enjoyable. A real asset to the Institute.”

“Dr Eastman has transformed my experience of education from a Dickensian approach to something akin to Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society. Growing up I watched films where teachers inspired and motivated their students and I always wondered what it would be like to have such a teacher and now I know! … Dr Eastman inspires me to want to learn, to want to know, to want to understand and to be so much more than I ever thought I could be. I genuinely miss my peer learning sets and look forward to our UniHub exchanges as a group and this is because of her passion.” 



Congratulations to all staff who were nominated or shortlisted, and thank you on behalf of your students! The nominations illustrate the level of student-staff partnership, as well as the level of knowledge, passion and compassion that exists amongst the community of staff at Middlesex - which clearly does not go unnoticed or unappreciated by students.


Further thanks to all students who placed one of the 1,300 nominations received this year. As well as giving us an opportunity to bring students and staff together to celebrate at the awards ceremony, the nominations received this year will be used by Middlesex Students' Union to suggest improvements to the university in future so we can continue to develop teaching and partnership at Middlesex.

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