Jump to accessibility statement Skip to content

Innovative projects inspire Vice Chancellor’s Teaching awards

Home / More / News / Innovative projects inspire Vice Chancellor’s Teaching awards

Published on 03 November 2020

Vice Chancellor Sir David Bell
Vice Chancellor Sir David Bell

The Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Fellowships awards up to four inspiring staff members at the University of Sunderland, as well as a new Team Award, annually.

Awarded through an open competition on the basis of a planned project which will be delivered in the forthcoming academic year, this year’s projects include: a games-based learning resource, video-enhanced dialogic assessment for trainee teachers, an assessment tool for use in pharmacist pre-registration training and a targeted intervention to enhance the university experience for BAME students.

Teaching Fellows are: Kathryn Davison, Principal Lecturer and Team Leader of the Pharmacy Practice and Clinical Therapeutics team, Drew Dalton, Senior Lecturer in Sociology / Programme Leader MSc Inequality and Society, and Muhammad Azam, Lecturer in Postgraduate Business at the University of Sunderland in London.

The Vice Chancellor’s Team Award goes to the Faculty of Education International and Independent Distance Learning Team, led by Principal Lecturer Dionne Ross.

The award winners are provided with mentorship and support for their projects from Centre for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT) and the Learning and Teaching Academy, for the duration of their award year and beyond, if desired.

The academics’ projects are all aligned to the University’s Corporate Strategy and will also be transferrable to other faculties and campuses. The academics are also given access to £2.5k of project funding which they can either use to implement their project or to disseminate through open access publishing/ conference presentation etc.

Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University, said: “I never cease to be amazed by the imagination and ingenuity of academic staff here at the University of Sunderland. That has been demonstrated again in the range of projects that have been funded through this year’s Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Fellowships.

“I offer my warm congratulations to all of the Fellowship recipients. I am particularly appreciative of their enthusiasm and commitment, given the additional pressures that staff are facing as a result of the pandemic.

“I look forward to hearing more about the successful projects as they develop.”

Teaching Fellowship Projects:

Kathryn Davison

The Pharmacy Practice Team plan on developing a novel assessment for use in pharmacist pre-registration training that will support pre-registration tutors in making decisions around trainee competence before registration as a pharmacist. This stems from feedback of trainees nationwide, where variation in training, support and assessment of competence has been highlighted as a key concern.

Registration as a pharmacist in the UK requires attainment of an MPharm degree, followed by a year in practice with a pre-registration tutor and successful completion of a registration assessment. Consultations are ongoing to integrate the pre-registration year into the undergraduate MPharm degree. A five-year degree will mean the complex decision as to whether a pre-registration trainee is competent to practice as a pharmacist, will become the joint responsibility of the tutor and the University (or potential Deanery to which they are associated).

In this project the team will involve key regional stakeholders in the design of a novel competency assessment for use in pharmacy training. Once the assessment tool is designed, we will test the tool by running a simulation involving pre-registration trainees, tutors, and academic staff as second assessors. (We are just hoping Covid allows this to still happen)

As the pharmacy team move towards preparing for a five-year integrated degree, this assessment will allow the team to have confidence in simultaneous graduation and registration. It will also influence further development across all stages of the MPharm programme, by giving current assessment strategies a clearer focus on employability and development/assessment of competencies aligned to future roles.

Kathryn said: “Obviously I am delighted to have been awarded this Fellowship particularly at a time when pressures in academia are high and support from such a scheme is a much-needed boost for our Team.”


Drew Dalton

Drew’s project is to get interested staff and students into a working group to develop gamification and games-based learning resources.

Once this is done, the group will then develop a Canvas site called ‘SunGame’ where all staff will have access to example resources that they can use both in their offline and online teaching.

Drew envisages this to be similar to the TES website, where staff can upload and download materials to use in their teaching, but it will also be useful for non-teaching staff to use these resources in their own training courses and to add their own materials to it.

If anyone would like to be part of the working group (both staff and students) to get this off the ground, please Drew at: Andrew.dalton@sunderland.ac.uk and arrange a meeting.

Drew said: “I am overjoyed to be the recipient of this award! It is a great opportunity to begin a project that I am fascinated in and to bring ideas about gamification and games-based learning to the University of Sunderland staff.

“After taking part in a training course on this held by the University, I became inspired to explore this further and as a user of gamification in my own classes, I thought that this might help others.”

Muhammad AzamMuhammad Azam 

'UpLift’ involves targeted intervention to enhance the student progression related to student employability. The project consists of a host of activities including BAME mentorship, work placements, role model workshops, BAME speaker series to BAME Enterprise Network. The BAME students participating in activities and events would be able to enhance their student experience.

Muhammad is hoping to disseminate the student experience and the findings of ‘UpLift’ at the University Annual Research Conference, Race, Class & Ethnicity (RaCE) interdisciplinary research events and other publications.

The University of Sunderland has a longstanding record of supporting underrepresented groups, including BAME students, and this project would contribute to our continued efforts in transforming the lives of our BAME students.

Muhammad said: “I am thrilled to have been awarded a Vice-Chancellor Teaching Fellowship (VCTF). Throughout my career, I have been passionate about improving the student experience and have worked with colleagues and students to develop employability and enterprise initiatives to enhance the student experience. I am excited that this award will enable me to continue the work and would help the university in addressing the student progression and employment outcomes for the BAME students.”


Vice-Chancellor's Team Award

The Faculty of Education International and Independent Distance Learning Team

Project team members:

Elizabeth Hidson staff profile

Ian Elliott staff profile

Alison Griffiths staff profile

Simon Sheard staff profile

Jemma Bell staff profile

Vikki Wynn staff profile

The group makes up the core teams (programme and module leaders) of two sister programmes: the PGCE Education (IDL) and the PGCE Early Years Teaching (IDL), both of which are studied via distance learning by trainees all over the world. They have about 500 trainees a year graduating from the programme.

Their VEDA (Video-Enhanced Dialogic Assessment) Project looks to pilot a new process of assessment in the initial teacher education programmes, encompassing two key strands: (1) video-enhanced lesson observation and (2) dialogic assessment.

It can best be imagined as a process through which a trainee teacher’s video-recordings of their lessons plus documentary evidence collected from teaching placements are brought together in a portfolio-based, viva-style assessment based on the UK Teachers’ Standards (2011).

This process gives the trainee and the assessor the opportunity to explore, discuss and evaluate the full range of evidence presented for assessment and to make a quality-assured judgment about the trainee’s strengths and areas for development.

The project will develop the trainees’ and assessors’ skills in reflection and dialogue and mark a step-change in assessment practices for distance-learning teacher education.

Elizabeth Hidson, Senior Lecturer in Education, said: “We are all delighted with having received the award. After the intensity of our work this year in responding to the needs of our international trainee teachers, this award feels like a moment of reward and recognition and inspires us to redouble our efforts.

“All of our team are early career researchers, although we are all experienced teachers and teacher educators. We see this project as the chance to have a lasting and meaningful impact on the way that we support and assess the professional practice of teachers, as well as developing our team’s research capacity.

“We are excited by the opportunity to take our IDL practice and strengthen it into a tangible concept that can be shared with others – that of Video Enhanced Dialogic Assessment. In the current climate, our IDL work in this area may have far greater international interest than expected.”