Innovative lecturer wins national teaching excellence award with sweets, songs and scratch cards


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The unconventional teaching methods used by a De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) lecturer have seen her win a second national award in less than a year.

Dr Jo Rushworth, 36, has been presented with the Teaching Excellence Award 2020 from the Biochemical Society, having been named one of the youngest-ever winners of a National Teaching Fellowship last autumn.

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Jo, who has only been a lecturer at DMU for five years, was praised by the Biochemical Society for her innovative and inclusive approach to teaching, which includes using chocolate, sweets, fairy lights, songs and scratch cards.

Last year, she introduced her lectures in 24 different languages and even composed a science Christmas carol to help her students revise, which the DMU Gospel Choir sang in a lecture.

Dr Rushworth said: “I am humbled and very honoured to accept this award. My students inspire me every day to become a better teacher and I am so grateful to my amazing colleagues who nominated me for this prize.”

In the classroom, Dr Rushworth said she prioritised co-creation, engaging her students as student lecturers and encouraging them to choose the teaching and learning methods in her classes.

She also champions DMU’s Universal Design for Learning, a pioneering teaching approach which provides a flexible learning experience for every student.

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Dr Helen Watson, Chair of the Education, Training & Public Engagement Committee at the Biochemical Society said: “We were very impressed by what Jo has achieved at this relatively early point in her career. Not only has she clearly made a huge impact at her own university and on countless students studying there, she has also created support resources which have made her teaching more accessible to many.”

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As the winner of the Teaching Excellence Award 2020, Jo will have the opportunity to present her work at one of the Biochemical Society conferences next year, and she will also get to publish her work in one of the society’s journals.

Dr Louise Dunford, Director of the Institute of Allied Health Sciences Research at DMU, said: “It was a pleasure to support Jo’s nomination for this award. She always receives excellent student feedback and I am delighted her innovative and inclusive teaching methods have been recognised.”

Dr Abi Moriarty, DMU’s Director of Teaching and Learning, said: “This award is a superb initiative which emphasises and celebrates the importance of having outstanding lecturers like Jo at our university”.

Posted on Thursday 28th March 2019

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