Teaching accomplishments recognised by UWI award
Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
University of the West Indies lecturer in the Department of Language, Linguistics and Philosophy, Dr Keren Cumberbatch, received the top award at the 10th staging of the University of the West Indies (UWI)/Guardian Life Limited Premium Teaching Award recently held at the Mona Visitors' Lodge.
Cumberbatch presently coordinates the sign language interpreting programme and her academic interests include deaf studies, sign linguistics, language documentation, endangered languages, patient communication, and adult education. She has been a part of the deaf community since childhood. The competition is held annually, with the finals alternating between an award ceremony and a lecture.
The award recognises the outstanding teaching accomplishments of the academic staff and encourages and rewards excellence in teaching on the Mona campus of the UWI. It is exclusively for teaching and all relevant aspects of the field, such as developing structures and processes that help create an environment in which teaching excellence is valued and fostered.
Awardees in the competition are selected on the basis of their preparation and submission of a teaching portfolio providing evidence of a teaching philosophy.
This philosophy should state clearly how they teach and why; demonstration of commitment to teaching and learning by participation in more than one of the workshops and teaching discussions offered by the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning; participation in the portfolio workshops; evidence of development of course materials; evidence of participation in efforts to improve the quality of instruction to students; demonstration of innovative approaches and/or teaching methodologies, and use of technology; commitment to the development of independence of students and respect for critical thinking and creativity, and evidence of openness to student-centred teaching.
Striving for excellence
Dr Damien King, senior lecturer and head of the Department of Economics at Mona, and director of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute, was this year's second-place nominee. Dr Elizabeth Barkley, professor and faculty development specialist at Foothill College, Los Altos, California, named as California's higher education professor of the year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, gave the keynote presentation under the theme, 'Striving for Excellence: Engagement and Today's University Students'.
Eric Hosin, president of Guardian Life, lauded the competition, stating that at Guardian Life, education is a top priority and a key focus in the company's corporate social responsibility programme.
"It is only fitting that we partner and give our full support to initiatives such as the UWI Premium Teaching Award, which seeks to honour, recognise and reward outstanding teachers in higher education who have excelled in their field," Hosin said.
"Guardian Life prides itself in being part of such a noteworthy event, with select team members playing an integral role in the yearly planning and execution of the event," he added. "I strongly believe the teaching award programme has significantly elevated the status of the teaching profession on the university's campus and the wider community, as well as providing a platform for which to give due recognition to the educators who work long and hard and who are dedicated to the craft of teaching."