We are delighted to announce that Professor Gwen van der Velden has been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship (NTF) 2018. This highly prestigious scheme celebrates and recognises individuals who have made an outstanding impact on higher education, with up to 55 individuals receiving the award each year. This year, for the first time since its launch in 2000, the scheme was open to to all providers of higher education across the four nations of the UK, making it more diverse and more competitive than ever before.
Professor Gwen van der Velden started out in Higher Education as a student activist in the Netherlands. Alongside her studies she then took on a role as critical observer of lecturers in the sciences. This combination of roles gave her a passion for educational enhancement and after moving to the UK she worked at the Universities of Kent and Bath on teaching enhancement through student agency. Gwen is now Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor (Student Learning Experience) at the University of Warwick.
Alongside her institutional work, Gwen took part in the drafting of the QAA (Quality Assurance Agency) Code of Practice chapter on student engagement, and undertook research and published on institutional engagement with student agency.
In 2016 Gwen completed a doctorate on institutional engagement with students in alternative providers. Such learning has led her to informing and influencing national policy on learning and teaching with a student focus. Her proudest achievement is the inclusion of student voice questions in the NSS (National Students Survey) which ensures institutional commitment to student agency is made transparent.
Gwen’s institutional work focuses on enhancing the student experience, developing student-centred educational leadership and the promotion of teaching recognition in a research intensive environment. Driven by a commitment to Higher Education as a social good, Gwen supports the development of outward looking student experiences which allow students to learn beyond the boundaries of their discipline, expand their understanding of global complexity and engage in student research.
Gwen intends to look for ways to ensure that in a more regulatory environment students and staff maintain ownership of learning and teaching processes. She wants to learn from international partnerships how this can be achieved and involve as many of her colleagues and their students as possible in developing innovative approaches to authentic curriculum and assessment practices.
Commenting on her award, Gwen said:
'It’s very humbling to receive this recognition and my thanks goes out to Dr Letizia Gramaglia who supported me through the process. In my case, the award is recognition for empowering the student voice in the academic process of educational evaluation, design and development. In the early days student agency was feared to undermine what was perceived as a proper university education. Students’ views were simply not regarded as informed enough to be worth considering. Those days have fortunately long gone and by now student engagement and agency are basic ingredients of teaching excellence. It’s been a privilege to be part of the pioneers who moved student agency into the mainstream, and I strongly encourage others who are driven by sound educational commitment, to feel encouraged to ‘stay the course’.'
Professor Christopher Hughes, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education), also commented:
‘Gwen’s award of an NTF is richly deserved and a rightful acknowledgement of her national impact as an educational leader. Since Gwen’s arrival at Warwick, she has set about raising esteem for teaching and learning and helping to develop through WIHEA a new generation of educational leaders. Gwen has also been a central member of the Education Executive and assisted the team in driving forward the new Education Strategy. I am so pleased on behalf of the University to congratulate Gwen on her NTF achievement and all that it represents for the constant enhancement of the education agenda at Warwick.’
You can view the profiles of all 2018 National Teaching Fellows on https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/national-teaching-fellows-2018