Celebration of staff Excellence at Waterford Institute of Technology

Research
Pictured are award recipients Kate McCarthy, Dr Úna Kiely with John Wall, Head of School of Lifelong Learning and Education

Pictured are award recipients Kate McCarthy, Dr Úna Kiely with John Wall, Head of School of Lifelong Learning and Education

The Postgraduate Supervision Excellence and the Teaching Excellence Award, highlight the positive contributions made to the life of the Institute

At the end of each academic year, WIT celebrates the excellence of its staff by a series of awards. This year’s awards covered excellence in teaching and excellence in postgraduate supervision and they aim to recognise, encourage and reward sustained excellence in these two areas at WIT.

The Postgraduate Supervision Excellence and the Teaching Excellence Award, highlight the positive contributions this year’s recipients have made to the life of the Institute.

The Teaching Excellence Award, were announced as Dr. Úna Kealy, the Department of Creative and Performing Arts and Kate McCarthy, the Department of Applied Arts.

They were praised for their “commitment to contributing to the learning, not only of the student body here in WIT, but to learning more broadly in the theatre community and in society”.

Dr. Lee Coffey of the Department of Science and Dr. Sheila O' Donohoe from the Department of Accountancy & Economics are the recipients of this year’s Postgraduate Supervision Excellence Award. A student who nominated Dr Coffey wrote: “Leading by example, Lee has always been enthusiastic about publishing work and commercialising our findings.”

One of Dr O’Donohoe’s students described her as an exception supervisor and mentor  Sheila has also been extremely helpful in helping me develop a career path, particularly as my PhD is approaching its final stage. This includes, but is not limited to, identifying job opportunities and sources of job opportunities, identifying target journals for future academic publications and offering advice based on her own experience.

Nominations are sought from students and colleagues and the onerous task of selection is carried out by a panel of senior staff, students and an external expert.

The premise of the award scheme is to recognise, encourage and reward sustained excellence in teaching. The large field of nominees, from different academic disciplines, was judged on criteria such as responsibilities and practices, student encouragement, participation in professional development activities, assistance in furthering students’ careers, and enthusiasm for, and commitment to, mentorship and pastoral care of students.

Teaching Excellence Award

This year the Teaching Excellence Award went to two School of Humanities lecturers Dr. Una Kealy (Department of Creative & Performing Arts) and Ms. Kate McCarthy (Department of Applied Arts).

Extract from their citation is as follows: ‘Both Una & Kate have been an inspiration in their teaching methodologies and they constantly seek to improve the learner experience through their teaching and learning and assessment strategies. They have generated the most useful matrices to link learning and assessment, and have shared these with colleagues, to improve the transparency and effectiveness of feedback for learning. They engage in team teaching, sharing delivery of modules in an open and self-evaluative way. They regularly take learning out of the classroom and field trips, student performances, guest lectures on and off site, workshops and opportunities to hear theatre practitioners discuss their work inform the design and delivery of modules. They give students every possible applied learning opportunity. For example, in October, WIT students will be involved as performers in a project entitled When Silence Falls which is a site-specific performance directed by internationally renowned performance artist Dr. Aine Philips.

Both Una & Kate are committed to contributing to the learning, not only of the student body here in WIT, but to learning more broadly in the theatre community and in society”.

Postgraduate Supervision Awards

Dr. Lee Coffey from the Department of Science was one of the worthy recipients of this year’s excellence award in postgraduate supervision. His postgraduate students wrote:

“Being a supervisor, one is expected to guide and support. I would have to say that these are two of the many things that Dr. Lee Coffey does on a daily basis. I receive guidance, not a list of ‘this is what you need to do’ or ‘this is what you need to know’. As a supervisor, Lee has provided guidance and support but also a challenge. I am challenged to take risks and encouraged to challenge pre-conceived or established ideas. Lee provides praise and encouragement – praise for my efforts and encouragement to try experiments no matter how ‘outside of the box’ they were. Since my first day I have been exposed to enthusiastic talks about the facilities and research carried out at WIT”.

They went on to say “Lee has provided criticism where necessary, the important point is that it is always constructive. Even when experiments have failed or could have been approached more efficiently, I have never left a meeting feeling scorned or low. I have always left knowing how to improve my approach to a method while still maintaining my confidence, all this was achieved with honest constructive feedback. Communication is vital. Lee has maintained daily contact, whether this was via e-mail, text or face to face, help is always at hand regardless of the time of year. Communication is something that Lee recognises to be very important, and so throughout my studies I have been encouraged to communicate and network with both people in my field of research and outside of it. Leading by example, Lee has always been enthusiastic about publishing work and commercialising our findings.”.

The other award for excellence in postgraduate supervision went to Dr. Sheila O’Donohoe from the Department of Accountancy & Economics. Dr. O’Donohue’s nomination was made by one of her students and extracts from her citation read:

“Throughout the process of completing my PhD, Sheila has been an exceptional supervisor and mentor. From the outset she helped me to complete a skills audit and identify potential areas where I may need further training and skills development. A key example of this was identifying that quantitative analysis would be required for my research. While having a strong background in quantitative research herself, which she has leveraged during my research, she arranged for me to be enrolled in a 12 week econometrics module which formed part of a taught masters programme in WIT. In addition to this she has regularly identified and recommended workshops, modules and presentations which have contributed to my skills development, in the areas of qualitative research, writing and presentation techniques, to name a few.

In terms of employing her own extensive skill set, she has not only helped me in the core work of developing an excellent thesis, but also in preparing for presenting my work at conferences. I have had the opportunity to attend a number of high profile international conferences and doctoral colloquiums.

She has also gone to great efforts to introduce me to other researchers and practitioners through forging links between WIT and other organisations. I have built a considerable network of contacts in other third level institutions, in Ireland and abroad”

The student went on to say that “Sheila has also been extremely helpful in helping me develop a career path, particularly as my PhD is approaching its final stage. This includes, but is not limited to, identifying job opportunities and sources of job opportunities, identifying target journals for future academic publications and offering advice based on her own experience. She has also made efforts to involve me in projects, to both enhance my CV and leverage my existing competencies. This has involved contributing to online content for the Centre for Finance and Business Research website, assisting with conferences and events, working on project proposals and assisting on international study trips. Through her work ethic and commitment she is a role model for me, for my future career in academia”.

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Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in  Early Childhood Studies
Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in  Social Care Practice
Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in  Social Science
Bachelor of Arts in  Applied Social Care
Bachelor of Arts in  Legal Studies
Bachelor of Arts in  Arts (Hons)
Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in  in Culinary Arts

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