The National Teaching Experts awards 2015 celebrated and awarded Ireland’s best teachers in higher education on December 10th 2015.

The awards recognise expert teachers who are models for excellence in teaching and whose knowledge about learning impact is strong and evidence based. There were sixteen winners, eleven individuals and five teams. All were awarded with reference to internationally acknowledged best practice. Nominations for Teaching Experts submitted by their institutions underwent a rigorous assessment process by an international Teaching Experts Panel.

The National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education hosted their Summit 2015 at The Printworks, Dublin Castle. Photo: Johnny Bambury-no reproduction fee.

Awardee Dr Elaine Doyle, University of Limerick (left) pictured with the print by artist Martina Cleary and National Forum Chairperson Prof Sarah Moore

All winners received a limited edition print by artist Martina Cleary, produced as a bespoke commission for the National Forum. The picture entitled Doras Feasa Fiafrai  – which roughly translated means the doorway to inquiry and wisdom –depicts a wonderful plentiful tree as a symbol of growth, development and the flourishing of ideas.

Darragh Sinnott, GMIT is the overall winner of the National Forum’s 2015 Teaching and Learning Teaching Expert Award Design Competition.

Darragh Sinnott, GMIT is the winner of the National Forum’s 2015 Teaching and Learning Teaching Expert Award Design Competition.

In addition, seven of the Teaching Experts received a special commendation. These commended winners were identified according to categories that emerged from the content and excellence of the candidates’ submissions. Each specially commended winner also received a design sculpture, designed as part of a national competition in collaboration with the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland. This unique piece further extends the tree metaphor, and is a wonderful sculpture in oak and acrylic made by designer/maker Darragh Sinnot from GMIT Letterfrack. The piece depicts an acorn and a tree. It turns on its head the idea that acorns are small things, to show the enormity of the potential that lies within every seed and the amazing, transformative growth that in the right conditions will emerge. These motifs strike at the heart of the concepts of teaching and learning that it is the National Forum’s mission to support and develop.