Dr Neil Morris named Biology Teacher of the Year

Dr Neil Morris, a senior lecturer from the Faculty of Biological Sciences, has been awarded the Higher Education Biology Teacher of the Year award by the Society of Biology.

His innovative teaching methods include the use of podcasts, assessments completed by text message, virtual learning-environments, tablet computers, social media, voting handsets and videos.

Of the four shortlisted candidates for the award, two were from the University of Leeds.

Dr Morris says: "I was thrilled to receive the award in recognition of my work with bioscience students. I am delighted that this award is available for staff who focus on teaching and scholarship activities within universities."

Studies have shown that university students benefit from using technology. Dr Morris has conducted his own studies on the integration of video lectures, podcasts and mobile technology in his teaching. He found that students who listened to podcasts of their lectures and completed assessments by text message performed significantly better in an exam.

He says: "I believe strong partnerships between learners and teachers are extremely valuable. I have therefore been searching for effective ways to personalise my students' learning.

"For example, recording lectures for the students and using voting handsets makes the most of face-to-face contact. This frees students from slavishly copying down every word, allowing them instead to listen, think and interact. Audio recordings of tutorials have been valuable for students to make the most of feedback discussions. In tutorials and practical classes I use tablet computers to collect and analyse data and to annotate diagrams. For example, my students explored a 3D model of the brain on their tablets - an experience that traditional learning simply couldn't provide."

Leeds Senior Lecturer Dr David Lewis was also on the shortlist. He researches how the brain controls the gastrointestinal system, hoping this will help find ways to cure and prevent obesity.

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