Keele academic wins ‘Most Innovative Teacher of the Year’ award!

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Posted on 01 December 2017

Keele University’s Dr Russell Crawford has been announced as the winner of the prestigious ‘Most Innovative Teacher of the Year’ award at the national Times Higher Education Awards 2017.

The awards, which took place at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on Thursday night, are now in their 13th year, and are known as the ‘Oscars of higher education.’

Dr Crawford, who holds a unique dual staff-student facing role at Keele, was one of only six academics in the country to be nominated for the highly-respected award.

Speaking about his win, Dr Crawford said:

"What a fantastic honour this is. To have this award recognise the most personal and creative aspects of my work means so much, and fires the imagination to look forward to what else is possible."

Dr Crawford attended the awards ceremony with Professor Pauline Walsh, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Dr Crawford has a dual role at Keele, serving as both senior teaching fellow in the School of Medicine and as an academic staff developer in the Learning and Professional Development Centre.

The judges said that Dr Crawford was a clear leader in a strong field of exceptionally inspiring teachers:

“Russell Crawford stood out for his innovation across a range of teaching styles, his strategies for self-directed learning and his work on the gamification of learning, which provided tangible evidence of knowledge gain,” the panel said.

Russell’s sustained excellence in teaching has resulted in eight years of recurrent teaching excellence nominations, two nominations for the Keele student-led teaching awards, and he has twice been runner-up for Professional of the Year and New Academic Tutor in the Keele widening participation awards too.

Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor of Keele University commented:

“We're exceptionally proud of Russell - through his innovative teaching methods he is ensuring that all his students are receiving an outstanding academic experience, and winning 'Most Innovative Teacher of the Year' is well-deserved. We really pride ourselves on the quality of our teaching at Keele, and we are extremely proud of Russell’s ever-growing list of achievements in this area.”

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Dr Crawford is the creator of Braincept, an educational game that focuses on boosting learning in pharmacology, which was developed in response to students saying that they lacked confidence in this area. As well as improving knowledge, Braincept encourages teamwork and communication skills through play. Dr Crawford’s assessments of Braincept revealed that playing the game led to knowledge gain and an increase in confidence among medical students. Other disciplines, including law, mathematics and physiotherapy, are now looking at whether the game can be used to aid student learning in these fields.

Dr Crawford is also responsible for Keele Basic Bites, a series of online videos designed to help self-directed study that average 20,000 views a year from around the world. In addition, he has undertaken a research collaboration with academics in the School of Psychology to explore how the feedback given to students in the first six weeks of university affects them.