Skip to main content

Students speak up to praise excellence in teaching

3 June 2021

Photos of Dr Smith and Dr Raymond
Dr Smith and Dr Raymond

Two academic staff members from Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy have been recognised this May in the Enriching Student Life Awards, for their significant contributions to the Cardiff University experience.

The Enriching Student Life Awards are annual awards created to recognise staff and students who contribute to the Cardiff University experience.

They are a special recognition by students for exceptional efforts in enhancing the student experience.

The staff members to receive the accolade were Vivien Raymond and Matt Smith.

Dr Vivien Raymond won the 'Most Innovative Staff Member of the Year' award, and Dr Matt Smith was short-listed (down to just three staff members from the entire University!) for the 'COVID Hero' award.

Dr Raymond

Winning the 'Most Innovative Staff Member of the Year' award has seen Dr Raymond recognised for employing a wide range of methods to engage students in learning, including the effective use of technology and interactive teaching techniques. This award also recognises staff who foster the student voice and support collaborative solutions to problems.

Reflecting on his award, Dr Raymond said:

“It is an honour to have be awarded the 'Most Innovative Staff Member' ESLA. A lot of the credit goes to the students, (including the demonstrators who helped teach!), to be willing (and eager!) to try new teaching methods, provide quick and earnest feedback, and overall making the best of difficult conditions this year.”

Dr Richard Lewis, Director of Learning and Teaching, told us:

“I am delighted that Vivien has been recognised for his hard work and dedication in bringing a sense of community to his students by means of an innovative remote learning environment.  Vivien has made a huge difference to his students’ learning experience this year, and this award is very well-deserved.”

Dr Smith

Dr Smith was sighted for the 'COVID Hero' award for being a staff member who has gone above and beyond to reduce the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on others.

The 'COVID Hero' award includes going the extra mile to safeguard the mental or physical wellbeing of others, to deliver high standards of education or service, and using initiative to provide solutions to problems caused by lockdown, social distancing restrictions, and remote learning.

Dr Smith has been both innovative and supportive with in-person teaching wherever possible and has also been the beating heart of the virtual social scene for the department, organising weekly coffees, pubs, quizzes, and more!

His colleague, Dr Sarah Ragan, Director of Undergraduate Studies, told us:

“To me, Matt’s efforts to keep people connected have been genuinely heroic, given how isolated we have all been feeling during the pandemic. He’s made a substantial positive difference for us all”.

Dr Smith said of his award:

“The last 14 months has been challenging for both students and staff, and there's been an enormous amount of effort by many to try and get the best learning experience. I really appreciate being shortlisted for this award knowing that something I've organised has had a positive effect on students.”

Professor Peter Smowton, Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy, has said:

“The fact that staff members of our School have received this level of recognition from a highly competitive scheme, hotly contested across the University, is fantastic. This is a well-deserved recognition of excellence in teaching, voiced by our students”.

The awards are open to any student or staff member at Cardiff University, who can likewise nominate any individual (student or staff) from a set list of categories.

The nominations were read by a shortlisting panel made up of members of the Student Voice and Elected Officer Team at Cardiff University Students' Union.

They were then judged by a panel made up of students, Students' Union staff, and University staff.

The winners were invited, alongside the individual who nominated them, to the virtual Enriching Student Life Awards which took place last month.

Congratulations have poured in from across the School, and we echo those sentiments for both Dr Raymond and Dr Smith’s achievements – well done both!

Share this story

There are so many reasons to choose physics and astronomy at Cardiff University.