Dr Elizabeth Dobson’s award maintains Huddersfield’s leading position as the university that has won the most Teaching Fellowships over the last ten years

HUDDERSFIELD has cemented its place as the past decade’s most successful university in a prestigious UK teaching awards scheme.

It is announced that Senior Lecturer in Music Technology Dr Elizabeth Dobson has been awarded a 2017-18 National Teaching Fellowship (NTF) by the Higher Education Academy (HEA).  She is the 15th University of Huddersfield academic to receive one of the fellowships since 2008. 

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Dr Elizabeth DobsonDr Elizabeth Dobson

This is more than any other university in the country over the last ten years of the scheme, and no other institution has been awarded at least one NTF annually over this period.

It has also been announced that a team of University of Huddersfield staff, with shared expertise in innovative curriculum design, have been named as 2017 finalists for the HEA’s Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE).

The Chief Executive of the HEA, Professor Stephanie Marshall, described the National Teaching Fellowship as “the most prestigious individual award for excellence in teaching in higher education”. 

She added: “The new NTFs and CATE finalists represent some of the very best teaching in higher education and I am sure they will inspire others as we share their innovative practice and ideas across the sector.  The UK is justifiably proud of its higher education sector and its reputation is enhanced by the examples of excellent teaching highlighted by these awards.”

The most prestigious individual award for excellence in teaching in higher education

Dr Dobson’s Fellowship is in recognition of some highly innovative and inter-disciplinary dimensions of her work.  In addition to her specialist expertise in music and technology, she also has a PhD in social psychology and education, leading to an understanding of “how learning happens in informal situations as much as it does in formal situations”.

This inspired her creation of the scheme named CollabHub, which enables students from different subject areas to combine and pool their areas of interest and expertise to develop small projects.  The goal is to build confidence, familiarity and long-term professional relationships and since 2012 almost 1000 students have taken part. 

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Inspired by the success of CollabHub, Dr Dobson has also launched the Yorkshire Sound Women Network, a collective that has delivered over 30 events for over 200 women and girls interested in music technology.

Commenting on her Fellowship Award, Dr Dobson said: “I am really thrilled to have been nominated by the University and that my kind of work is being encouraged and supported in this way.”

The National Teaching Fellowship is accompanied by a bursary that enables the award-winner to carry out additional research to expand their expertise.  Dr Dobson plans to extend her investigation into understanding the conditions that enable females to enter, develop and maintain careers in music and sound technology.

She also hopes to explore why so few females study and make their careers in music technology.

“Fewer than five per cent of sound engineers are women and data presented by Professor Georgina Born and Kyle Devine in 2015 showed that over ten years, when there was an increase of 1,400 per cent in applications for music technology courses, 90 per cent of them were male.”

“This is such a huge industry, so I am very interested to work out what the systemic and subtle problems are that are putting girls off,” continued Dr Dobson.  “Evidence shows that this is not an ability issue, but more a social and a cultural problem.”

CATE Finalist

The University of Huddersfield team that is a finalist for the HEA’s Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence consists of educationalists who share an innovative approach to curriculum development.

They are Senior Lecturer in Education and Professional Development Jane Wormald; Senior Lecturer and Examination Tutor Cheryl Reynolds; Senior Lecturer Dr Ian Rushton; Consortium Director Dr David Powell; and Kevin Orr, who is Professor of Work and Learning and Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) at the University’s School of Education and Professional Development.

The project that earned the team a CATE shortlisting is described as a “collaboratively designed, innovative curriculum, informed by the concept of a central community of enquiry, that engages students in central decisions.  It has been successful in raising engagement and achievement within the University, as well as in the context of our partners in college-based higher education.”

Fifteen institutions have been chosen as finalists and six will be awarded grants of £15,000 to disseminate their ideas.  Winners will be announced at an HEA function held in London on November 1st.

Huddersfield's CATE finalists (l-r) Cheryl Reynolds, Jane Wormald, Kevin Orr, Dr David Powell and Dr Ian RushtonHuddersfield's CATE finalists (l-r) Cheryl Reynolds, Kevin Orr, Dr David Powell, Dr Ian Rushton and Jane Wormald