Maynooth Academics receive Teaching Hero Awards

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 - 00:00

Dr Kevin Kavanagh, Maynooth University Department of Biology and Dr Frank Mulligan, Maynooth University Department of Experimental Physics have each received Teaching Hero awards i​n a new scheme aimed at recognising excellence in teaching at third-level.

Dr Kavanagh and Dr Mulligan were among fifty-three academics from higher education institutions throughout Ireland identified by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education, in partnership with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and other student bodies, to celebrate students’ perspectives of great teaching, informed by guidelines that focused on merit and learning impact.

National Forum Patron, Prof Mary McAleese pointed to the importance of awards such as these in recognising the deeper societal significance of excellent teaching. “Excellence in teaching is about much more than simply getting students through their exams,” she said. “It is about inspiration, passion, generosity of spirit, and a genuine desire to make a positive difference to students’ lives.”

The teaching hero award is the first of its kind in Higher education in Ireland. In the words of Prof Sarah Moore, Chair of the National Forum; “Outstanding teaching often happens quietly under the radar. With all our commitments to improvement and developing teaching and learning, these awards aim to shed more light on the kinds of teaching that students say they value most. This first iteration of the awards process showcases some great examples of teaching and will give rise to important conversations about students own perspectives on their learning.”

By engaging in this exploration and celebration of learner impact, students have shown that for them, great teachers are great due to a complex combination of factors, including intellectual excellence, academic inspiration, emotional empathy, belief in their students’ abilities and practical support.

Dr Kevin Kavanagh, alumnus is the Course Co-ordinator on the BSc Biological and Biomedical Sciences, and is primarily involved with undergraduate students. Dr Frank Mulligan, alumnus is 2nd Year Course Co-ordinator and teaches modules to 2nd year, 3rd Year and final year students. He also supervises several PhD students.

Dr Kevin Kavanagh and Dr Frank Mulligan, Maynooth University (centre) receive their awards in the presence of USI President Laura Harmon, Minister for Education & Skills Ms Jan O’Sullivan TD, the Patron of the National Forum Prof Mary McAleese and Chair of the Forum Prof Sarah Moore at a special ceremony in Dublin Castle on Tuesday, September 30th.