As Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education and Student Experience it’s my job to make sure your experience at Herts is the best it can be.
I work closely with your lecturers in each School of Study as they develop new teaching approaches. In a typical day I might be discussing new proposals for our teaching programmes, talking to your Student Union representatives or reading your course feedback to ensure we focus on the things that matter to you, or identifying priorities for our Learning and Teaching Innovation awards. The money that your University commits to these awards helps buy our teaching staff the time or materials to turn their ideas for new ways of teaching or delivering your courses into reality. Recognising and rewarding innovation, especially new ways of teaching that will really engage our students, is an important way for us to continually improve your learning experience.
My role in all this is to provide leadership – to build on people’s ideas, to listen and make connections, and to create an environment here at Herts where innovative teaching and learning is actively valued and enhanced.
I trained as a primary teacher and worked with vulnerable children and in further and adult education before I came to Herts. I’ve been at the University since 2006 and from my long career in education I understand there are many ways in which learning can happen. I know that learning doesn’t happen in a bubble, everyone learns differently and engages differently with their learning environment.
At Herts we take a holistic view of how people learn. For example, the way Engineering, is taught here is moving beyond a traditional lecture/workshop model. It includes industry-relevant projects that go from concept and design to implementation and testing, involving different levels and groups of students.
Students have the chance to engage outside of their courses too. We’re one of the best Formula Student teams in the UK and each year, a group of our talented automotive engineering students launch a racing car that they have planned, developed and made.
Engaging with projects like these is one of the most rewarding parts of my role, especially when I can encourage and support this sort of innovative learning potential in all Schools and programmes. What this means for our students is active, real-world learning which we hope will engage you, and which we know will give you tremendously valuable skills.
Working with our students is really important to me. I spend a lot of time working with student representatives and advisory groups. I listen to what they have to say and work with my academic colleagues to take on board their views and ideas. Friendliness and collegiality are part of our values and vision for the University, and developing partnerships is a large part of my leadership role. I’m an enabler - I bring people together who’ll seize opportunities to provide the best student experience possible.
Recently I worked closely with staff and members of the Students’ Union to prepare the Herts submission to the Teaching Excellence Framework. This Government-led assessment looks at the quality of teaching at universities across the UK. Writing the submission was a really collaborative piece of work and getting the highest ranking – Gold – is a recognition of how we partner and work with our students to shape their journey and make the student experience at Herts the best it can be.