Today is an exciting day for the higher education community. The recipients of Ireland’s inaugural Teaching and Learning Research Fellowships have just been announced, as follows:
- Brett Becker, University College Dublin
- Michelle Flood, Royal College of Surgeons
- Chris Lynch, University College Cork
- Geraldine O’Neill, University College Dublin
- Barry Ryan, Technological University Dublin
The Fellowships, each valued at €45,000, are the country’s most prestigious national individual teaching and learning awards. Fellows will share their knowledge and expand their expertise in a variety of ways, including through research and scholarship, both nationally and internationally. Making the announcement, Dr Terry Maguire, Director of the National Forum, said: “The National Forum warmly congratulates its first Teaching and Learning Research Fellows. The introduction of the Fellowships and the calibre of candidate they attracted on their inaugural outing highlight the critical influence teaching and learning increasingly has in Irish higher education. Fellows will work together and with the National Forum on projects of sectoral importance, bringing a new dimension to the research-led teaching and learning culture in Irish higher education and contributing to a robust evidence base for future teaching and learning enhancement decision-making across the sector. As individual awards, they complement the National Forum team award, the Disciplinary Excellence in Learning, Teaching and Assessment (DELTA) Award.”
The Fellowships recognise that teaching, learning and research are not separate activities of higher education; they are mutually dependent. Research flourishes through the development of new entrants to the disciplines, who bring fresh thinking and ensure the ongoing sustainability of our capacity to push the boundaries of knowledge. All this requires teaching and learning environments and approaches that nurture talent at an early stage while responding to the needs of all students.
Reflecting on the partnership between the National Forum and the Irish Research Council, which underpins these national Fellowships, Peter Brown, Director of the Irish Research Council, remarked: “The Council is delighted to work in partnership with the National Forum, and warmly welcomes the announcement of the five new Fellows. At the core of our mandate is supporting excellence across all disciplines, and working with the Forum we promote this mandate in the field of teaching and learning. A vibrant research eco-system is enabled through supporting world-class individual researchers to progress their research ideas, and we are delighted to see the ‘pipeline’ of excellence being boosted today by the announcement of the new Fellows. Teaching and learning is a truly cross-cutting field, and the new knowledge and evidence that will be co-created by the Fellows have the potential to have wide-ranging impact on practice and policy across the higher education sector. Through this initiative, Ireland’s capacity for research in teaching and learning will take a step forward, and the benefits for disciplines from Archaeology to Zoology will be reaped in the years to come.”
The Fellows were selected by an international panel through a rigorous three-stage process from a total of 54 applications from across 16 Irish higher education institutions. Beginning on 1 July, each Fellow will spend 18 months working on a targeted research project which will contribute to a robust evidence base to inform developments in teaching and learning across Irish higher education over the coming years.
The review panel noted that in addition to fulfilling the Fellowship criteria, the successful Fellows had demonstrated vision, leadership and national/international reach. The reviewers commended the Fellows’ impact, their approaches to student partnership and the balance they had achieved between practice and scholarship. In addition, they remarked that the successful applicants had demonstrated the professional commitment, passion, enthusiasm and collegiality that one would expect of a national Fellow.
Prof Frank Coton (University of Glasgow), the Chair of the international review panel, and international advisor to the National Forum, commented: “The review panel were really impressed by the quality of the applications received at every stage and also by the way the Forum shaped and supported the process. The five applicants who have been awarded Fellowships are truly outstanding individuals with the potential to make significant positive impact on higher education in Ireland. They all bring different skills and experience and, for me, one of the most exciting aspects of the Fellowships is the Forum’s intention to harness that collective capability to ensure that the Fellows’ projects bring maximum benefit to the sector.”
The National Forum team and its partners would like to extend heartfelt congratulations to our five new Fellows.
More information on the Fellowships can be found here.