LEL recognised at Union Awards!

Posted on May 18, 2015 by

It’s become something of a tradition for LEL to put forward a strong showing at the Manchester Teaching Awards, held in conjunction with the Student Union Awards. We had several lecturers and postgraduate teaching assistants recognised in 2014 and 2013, and Manchet is now proud to report that this year we kept up our streak! At the awards ceremony on 5 May, Hollie Barker and Joe Hargreaves were recognised as Outstanding Student Reps, Dr Wendell Kimper was a finalist for Most Inspiring Lecturer, and Dr Laurel MacKenzie took home the grand prize of Best Lecturer in the Humanities! Laurel is shown here with Natalie Jennings (fourth year, English Language and Italian), who nominated her; you can read Natalie’s nomination below.

LEL’s string of teaching award successes drives home the special staff–student relationships that we have in this department, as every finalist has been student-nominated. We are proud to be a department where both staff and students go the extra mile.

Laurel teaches through research, which is an incredible way to motivate students and to inspire a deep interest in the subject. She manages to make each student feel like they have contributed something fantastic to the field, and never fails to highlight areas where more research is needed, which in itself makes students want to carry on studying at a high level and investigate the unanswered questions. The fact that Laurel is already so accomplished at her age is proof to us as students that we could also be capable of such success. Where many lecturers are out-dated and old-fashioned, Laurel is very much a  figure in the department with whom LEL students can relate.  Having taken part in two courses taught by Laurel, I have found that she sets high academic goals for her students, and supports them in achieving those goals. For example, this year’s students in the Change Across the Lifespan module were sent an e-mail alerting us to the opportunity to have our research featured in a journal if it were of a high enough academic level – what better way to motivate students to produce their best work?  I can say without reservation that Laurel was born to teach. It is evident from her lectures that teaching young people about her subject is equally as important to her as the research she carries out. Her lectures and lecture handouts are always thoughtfully designed to provide the best learning experience. Whereas many lecturers simply write their knowledge on a powerpoint presentation and read it aloud,requiring minimal effort, Laurel clearly puts hours of effort into each lecture, and asks for students’ feedback so that she can make it even better for the next year. This demonstrates a dedication to teaching which I have not encountered with any other lecturer during my time at Manchester. Laurel displays an active presence on the blackboard site, replying to discussion board posts and bringing up common issues in the lectures and seminars, thus showing her attention to student’s needs. She will often reply to posts or emails late into the evening or at weekends, as well as during normal work hours. She was also more than willing to write a reference for my application to further education after my degree, despite not being my academic advisor. This is above and beyond what is expected of Lecturers, showing that Laurel is one on her own.  Laurel demonstrates an overwhelming enthusiasm for the subject by her willingness to give up her own time to talk about the finer points of the topics covered, and sharing anecdotes of her own experiences in the field, and her upcoming research.  I highly recommend sitting in on one of Laurel’s lectures to experience the extent of her prowess as a lecturer. She is the best teacher I have encountered at Manchester, and fully deserves to be recognised via this award.

Featured image: Natalie Jennings and Dr Laurel MacKenzie at the Manchester Teaching Awards.