Rhine-Waal Teaching Awards 2015

Each year Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences distinguishes two teachers for demonstrating engaging and exemplary teaching practice.

Kleve/Kamp-Lintfort, 22 September 2015: This year’s Teaching Awards were awarded to Professor Dr Franca Ruhwedel, Professor of Finance and Controlling in the Faculty of Communication and Environment in Kamp-Lintfort, and Professor Dr Eva Maria Hinterhuber, Professor of Sociology with an emphasis on Gender Studies in the Faculty of Society and Economics in Kleve. Both were honoured on 21 September 2015 as part of the on-campus opening ceremonies during Rhine-Waal University’s orientation week for incoming students.

The annual award distinguishes teachers in two separate categories, with Prof Ruhwedel receiving a Teaching Award for the category ‘Lectures’ and Prof Hinterhuber for the category ‘Projects/Seminar-based Exercises’.

A total of seven professors were nominated for this year’s awards. Each was tasked with presenting their personal teaching concept to a deciding jury that consisted of members of the University’s Central Commission on Quality Improvement in Teaching. Each nominee was request to develop a description of their concept that touched on the following considerations:

  • Teaching philosophy and how they envision their role in the teaching and learning process;
  • Competence fields in their specialist area and beyond;
  • How the concept relates to current issues in education;
  • How the concept relates to practical applications;
  • How it engages students;
  • The degree of international orientation.

“I strive to be an active, passionate and engaging presence in the classroom, motivating my students and building a rapport with them by memorising their names and speaking to them personally”, said Prof Ruhwedel. She noted that a good rapport was utterly essential to reaching students and laying the proper foundation for the effective transfer of knowledge. She understands her role in terms of the scientific insights into education gleaned by renowned Australian researcher John Hattie, who discerned key features of effective teaching through comprehensive meta-analysis. To Hattie, successful teaching practice must involve collecting feedback, applying a continued focus on the quality of lectures, and promoting learning strategies.

On the other hand, Prof Hinterhuber incorporates the tried-and-true taxonomy of Bloom into her didactic methods in order to better achieve increasingly complex learning objectives for students. As the award winner for the category ‘Projects/Seminar-based Exercises’, Prof Hinterhuber aims to encourage and motivate students, to pique their curiosity and impart to them the essential ‘tools’ they’ll need in their future careers. In lectures she enjoys introducing competing theories on specific topics, which are then explored in accompanying projects and seminar-based exercises. Her students are taught to analyse these theories according to their practical-political relevance, and to explore the theories by applying them to specific issues and evaluating the results. The results of these experiments can be expressed in a number of ways, for example as a scientific poster that not only conforms to the tenets of good scientific practice, but can also be presented at relevant scientific conferences.

“In 2015 we are again privileged to honour two examples of excellent teaching practice. Moreover, students’ enthusiastic participation in the nomination process proves once more how respected and well regarded the Teaching Awards are at our university”, explained a visibly delighted Professor Dr Marion Halfmann, Vice-President of Teaching and Learning, Professional Studies.

As in previous years, the 2015 Teaching Awards were presented during Rhine-Waal University’s annual orientation week. This choice of time and location has an important symbolic value, as it demonstrates to incoming students that the University not only strives to promote good teaching practice, but also recognises and appreciates it as well.