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Inspiring innovation

22 May 2019

A lecturer who works part-time in the School of Geography and Planning, the School of Modern Languages and the Centre for Continuing and Professional Education has been recognised for his innovative teaching in the 2019 Enriching Student Life Awards (The ESLAs).

Dr Craig Gurney took home the award for Most Innovative Member of Staff for the second consecutive year. He was also shortlisted as Most Uplifting Member of Staff.

Nominations for the ESLAs, which are run by Cardiff Students’ Union, are made by current students and provide an opportunity for them to acknowledge staff, or fellow students, who have made a difference to their studies and overall student experience.

Dr Gurney received nine nominations for Most Innovative Member of Staff and nine nominations for Most Uplifting Member of staff. Nominations from Helen Walbey (MSc Social Science Research Methods) and Joseph Healy (MSc Social Science Research Methods) were read out at the Awards dinner.

Student endorsement

Helen’s nomination for the most innovative member of staff included the following statements about Dr Gurney's approach:

Craig is a highly deserving winner as he took a student centred approach to the learning experience ensuring that all different learning styles were accounted for and no students were left behind. His classes were a pleasure to engage with and were always full even though they were our last class of the day.”

“Innovation is not about using technology it is about bringing the subject to life in the most engaging way. What was really noticeable was that even though we did not ‘have’ to attend the class because it was recorded it was full every single week as students really wanted to be there as it was so enjoyable and we got so much out of the face to face live experience. Attending his class was a joy and he has really inspired me to keep researching and learning in this area.”

Her nomination went on to mention Dr Gurney’s use of all the technology available in the classroom, his use of the mentimeter audience response tool to facilitate participation and discussion and the use of physical props such as washing lines in his teaching.

Reacting to his win, Dr Gurney said: “This is a great honour. I was deeply touched by the time and effort taken by the students who nominated me during a tough year in which I was balancing teaching commitments across three different schools. The washing line was mentioned by a lot of students. It’s a metaphor I developed in one of my lectures in the Foundations for Social Science Research module. I use a washing line to explain contrasting philosophical positions on the nature of reality and how these relate to the way in which research questions are framed. I hook the washing line up in the lecture theatre and then peg tea-towels up to represent different perspectives along a continuum.  It’s something a bit different and students seem able to relate to it much more than more static diagrams projected through PowerPoint.”

The awards were presented at a special ceremony on Thursday 9 May in the Great Hall on Park Place.

For a full list of the fifteen winners, visit the Cardiff University Students' Union website.

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