If you thought university teaching was all about lectures, then the work of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) Teacher Fellow Julia Reeve will make you think again.
She is more likely to open a box of LEGO® and use mindfulness techniques or art to support her teaching and works across the university, engaging undergraduate students, doctoral researchers and staff teams in playful and creative learning.
Now her work has secured her the most prestigious award for teaching and learning excellence available as one of just 55 in the UK who have been named National Teaching Fellows by Advance HE this morning.
Julia said: “I’ve always been a creative person and I am fascinated by the different ways that people learn: I use playful and multisensory approaches to make learning as inclusive and engaging as possible.”
Her portfolio of visual, kinaesthetic tools includes drawing, collage, infographics, mind mapping and LEGO Serious Play®: these combine creative and compassionate approaches and foster confidence, empathy, reflection and creative thinking.
“Everyone learns differently. Some people are visual, some kinaesthetic, everyone is different but it is about how we can, as educators, adapt techniques to ensure they get the most from their learning.”
Julia began her career in fashion. After graduating from Leicester Polytechnic (DMU) in Fashion Design she joined Corah in Leicester where she designed for Marks & Spencer. She returned to teach contextual studies in the fashion department before moving to a cross-university professional services role as part of the Library and Learning Services team.
Her interest in mental wellbeing has led to work across the institution including with the Healthy DMU team, delivering mindful LEGO® sessions to students through the New to DMU programme. Julia is also a Unison Learning Representative and has been involved in a number of initiatives to promote social justice and literacy such as #DMUreads
Julia has recently joined the Faculty of Business and Law, where she delivers corporate training programmes, creative staff development sessions and teaching on the faculty’s apprenticeship programmes.
She said: “What I’m hoping this award will do is encourage people like me who have not followed the usual academic route to apply for NTF.”
Julia is one of a number of National Teacher Fellows at DMU and the latest to have been mentored by Professor Angela O’Sullivan, who is Professor of Inclusive Practice in Learning and Teaching at DMU.
Angela and Julia are Co-Chairs of DMU’s TF/NTF/CATE Committee which represents a network of academics at DMU
who share best practice around teaching and learning to improve the student experience.
“Angela has been so supportive throughout this whole process,” said Julia. “She has been a real mentor throughout the application to Advance HE and is passionate about teaching and learning at DMU.”
This year sees the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS) surpass 1,000 awardees in its 21-year history. The scheme celebrates and recognises individuals who have made an outstanding impact on student outcomes and the teaching profession in higher education.
Alison Johns, Chief Executive of Advance HE, said: “Over the years, each and every NTF has made an impact on the sector – both on the students they teach and on their fellow teaching staff who look to them for inspiration and guidance.
“Well done to each and every awardee on this outstanding achievement.”
Posted on Thursday 5th August 2021