NTU launches highest award to honour teaching excellence
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has launched a pinnacle award to recognise superlative excellence in teaching.
The new Nanyang Education Award (University) will be presented to faculty who have won the university’s highest level awards for teaching.
The ultimate university award in terms of prestige and recognition, it recognises teaching of the highest quality and comprises the Gold, Silver and Bronze awards. The recipient of the Gold award will be conferred the honorary title of Educator of the Year.
Five professors were honoured with the inaugural Nanyang Education Awards (University) today.
Professor Kam Chan Hin, Senior Associate Provost (Undergraduate Education) said, “The five winners at the university level represent the crème de la crème of NTU’s teaching talents. They are all excellent and passionate teachers, and they have also distinguished themselves with other achievements beyond teaching.”
In addition to a cash award, winners would also receive a special grant, ranging from $10,000 (Bronze), $15,000 (Silver) and $25,000 (Gold), to fund teaching-related activities, such as attending conferences and courses on education and new pedagogical innovations, and undertaking projects to improve teaching effectiveness.
Professors Vijay Sethi and Jenny Higham were conferred the Gold Award and bestowed with the honorary title of “Educator of the Year”.
Associate Professor Roderick Wayland Bates received the Silver Award, while Associate Professors Ruth Wong and Jung Younbo were given the Bronze Award.
The five winners for the University-level awards were chosen from last year’s inaugural cohort of 12 College-level teaching award recipients.
The selection panel comprised senior faculty members, an external eminent educationist, and the student-presidents of the Students’ Union and Graduate Student Council.
Inspiring teachers of the highest calibre
Prof Vijay Sethi from Nanyang Business School is a dedicated teacher who is very focused on the welfare of his students. He is not only concerned with students’ current learning and academic progress, but also their future outside the University.
Speaking on the award’s significance, Prof Sethi said, “Personally, the award is a wonderful pat on the back. It is a reminder of why we should always to do our best once you enter the class no matter the circumstance. Professionally, the award is an acknowledgment of the value the university puts on teaching. It means a lot when you know that the daily effort in the classroom is valued and rewarded. The award also provides credibility when we engage with our peers or professionals beyond the university.”
The information systems expert’s distinct creative approach had previously earned him global accolades, winning the Business Professor of the Year award by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in 2013. Prof Sethi, who defeated three other professors in an intense teach-off during the EIU competition finals in London, hopes to bring a similar programme to Singapore in future.
“My dream is for NTU to host an annual Teaching Excellence competition. This might be Singapore-wide. It will really promote and elevate teaching excellence in the universities here,” he said.
Fellow Gold Award-winner Prof Jenny Higham has been instrumental in bringing together the combined resources of NTU and Imperial College London to jointly establish the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine). Since 2009, she has been skilfully harmonising the different academic systems and culture of both institutions. Prof Higham played a pivotal role in realising the innovative medical degree programme and has shown a high level of achievement and leadership in the area of teaching and curriculum development at both NTU and Imperial College London.
Sharing her joy, Prof Higham said, "I am absolutely delighted and very honoured to have this recognition from NTU. My career for the past six years has been happily dominated by the creation of the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine – something of which I am enormously proud. I want to continue to make LKCMedicine the best it possibly can be – a true world leader."
Prof Higham has won several significant awards at Imperial College, including the President and Rector’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Teaching Excellence (2013) and the “Mentor of the Year” Women of the Future Awards (2011). She also has significant publications in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.
Assoc Prof Roderick Wayland Bates from the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences has been an ardent advocate of innovation and played a leading role at the school in advancing new technology in teaching.
His highly successful Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) in forensic science last year attracted almost 80,000 registrants from around the world. The course was also taken by about 1,000 NTU students under the rigorous Signature Track that enables them to earn academic credits for completing the course. NTU is the first university on Coursera to offer credit for its MOOCs.
“It is a great feeling to have these efforts recognised at such a high level and it encourages me to keep innovating,” said Assoc Prof Bates. “The challenge that we are facing now is how to use more online technology, but to keep a human face! We need to find the right balance,” he said.
Assoc Prof Ruth Wong Yeang Lam of the National Institute of Education’s Department of English Language and Literature is a strong and inspiring educator who is recognised for her endeavour to develop students as individual thinkers and to empower them in their future role as teachers.
A veteran trainer of English teachers at the primary level, she has deeply enriched the learning experiences of her trainee-teachers through her enthusiasm, care and close rapport. Dr Ruth has also played a leadership role in facilitating faculty development in the international arena.
Assoc Prof Wong said, "I am very humbled to win this award. It's a reaffirmation that teaching is my calling. I hope to further contribute to teaching excellence at NTU by mentoring my junior colleagues."
Assoc Prof Jung Younbo from NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information adopts a fresh and lively approach to teaching. He has introduced a variety of innovative ideas in his classes, such as the usage of clickers to encourage greater interactivity and instant feedback from his students about their understanding of the topic.
Assoc Prof Jung said, “This award reminds me of a promise that I made to my mentors. That is, I would pay forward to my future students what I owed my mentors. Sometimes, I am afraid that I may forget the passion, excitement, and commitment on teaching that I had when I first started to teach. The award will help me remember my first love with teaching and mentoring, and keep exploring various pedagogical innovations for teaching excellence.”
A role model for other younger faculty, Dr Jung has also been taking up leadership roles in teaching, including long-term membership of the school’s teaching and learning committee, mentoring junior faculty in teaching, and organising teaching and learning workshops.
These latest awards come on the heels of NTU's Teaching Excellence Academy established last year to drive teaching excellence across the university. Championed by faculty, the Academy promotes best teaching practices by award-winning NTU professors and lecturers to raise teaching standards throughout the university.
To promote innovations in teaching, NTU had set aside $400,000 in research funding or the Academy to encourage faculty members to develop practical and innovative teaching tools that can be potentially implemented university-wide.
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Feisal Abdul Rahman
Senior Assistant Director (Media Relations)
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
Tel: (65) 6790 6687
About Nanyang Technological University
A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has 33,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.
NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).
A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.
Besides its main campus, NTU also has campuses in one-north, Singapore’s science and tech hub, in Novena, Singapore’s medical district, and at Gillman Barracks, Singapore’s contemporary arts cluster.
For more information, visit www.ntu.edu.sg