University of Dundee

Prestigious Award for Innovative Chemistry Teaching

25 May 2006

The transformation of chemistry teaching at the University of Dundee has been recognised by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), which has awarded Dr Linda Morris a prestigious Higher Education Teaching Award (25 May 2006).

The RSC Higher Education Teaching Awards are made in recognition of outstanding teaching skills and/or development of innovative materials/methods in Higher Education.

Dr Morris, a Teaching Lecturer in the Faculty of Life Sciences, has played an integral role in the establishment of the new Pharmaceutical Chemistry degree programme and the complete restructuring of first year chemistry.

Prior to 2003, too many students were failing 1st year Chemistry and not developing their knowledge of Chemistry in later years. The course content was also inappropriate as a foundation for life sciences degree programmes.

In the new course students learn the basic language and tools of chemistry and then apply these to more complex concepts. The provision of these fundamental principles of chemistry enables students to understand better the relevance of chemistry to the life sciences.

Dr Morris has instigated a move away from traditional lectures to the use of on-line teaching technology, including the virtual learning environment (VLE), ‘My Dundee’, and Questionmark Perception, which allow students to carry out self assessments of their work and to chart their own progress, thereby reinforcing their learning.

The changes to the 1st year chemistry course have produced an improved exam performance, an increased module pass rate and increased retention of students in chemistry modules in years two and three.

On receiving the award Dr Morris said "This award is an acknowledgement of the hard work and dedication of the entire teaching team and support staff within the Life Sciences Teaching Unit who provide quality teaching which is evident from the success of the students’ examination results".

Dr Martyn Ward, Associate Dean of Life Sciences commented "I am delighted that Dr Morris has received well-deserved recognition for her outstanding work to improve the learning experience of undergraduate students in chemistry. At a time when there is UK-wide concern about falling numbers of students wishing to study chemistry at university, it is most encouraging to note that as a result of the efforts of Dr Morris and her colleagues, more of our students are now electing to take 2nd year chemistry modules even when these modules are not compulsory components of their chosen degree path."

Dr Morris will receive her award at the RSC General Assembly meeting in November 2006. A requirement of the award is that Dr Morris must give a presentation or demonstration about her teaching achievements to five RSC Local Sections/Chemistry Departments in the UK in the coming year.

Notes to Editors

The RSC is the largest organisation in Europe for advancing the chemical sciences. Supported by a network of over 43,000 members worldwide and an internationally acclaimed publishing business, our activities span education and training, conferences and science policy, and the promotion of the chemical sciences to the public.