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Distinguished Teacher Awards 2016
31 March 2017

The Distinguished Teacher Award is the highest accolade awarded to teaching staff at all levels within the university and recognises excellent teaching.

Through the award, the University of Cape Town acknowledges the primary place of teaching and learning in the university’s work. All full-time academic staff who have taught students at the institution for at least three years are eligible.

Each year the Distinguished Teacher Award Committee considers nominations made by students and staff on behalf of a number of dedicated teachers. The committee examines each submission in accordance with a set of guidelines, terms of reference and selection criteria, including:

  • reflection on teaching practice
  • versatility in different teaching settings
  • transformational capacities
  • innovation in teaching
  • influence on students’ career development
  • concern and sensitivity towards the needs of students
  • endorsement from colleagues and students
  • intellectual vigour and communication skills in the interpretation and presentation of subject matter consistently outstanding student evaluations.

These are the 2016 winners:

Jonathan Shock

Dr Jonathan Shock: Mathematics and Applied Mathematics

Dr Jonathan Shock convenes a dreaded first-year mathematics course. He says that what he enjoys the most about teaching is also often what he finds the most challenging: “How do I get into the minds of students who come from such different educational, social and cultural backgrounds? How do I teach a class of 200 to 300 students who see this subject in such different ways?”

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David Erwin

Dr David Erwin: Mathematics and Applied Mathematics

Dr David Erwin’s philosophy of creating a comfortable classroom, keeping students focused, and developing the structures they need to succeed is visible in his teaching. And his students speak highly of his ability to entertain while being completely rigorous in all his mathematical statements. “If you have a class that engages with you ... then even the most routine stuff that you’ve taught 20 times before is great fun to teach,” he says.

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Jimmy Winfield

Associate Professor Jimmy Winfield: College of Accounting

Associate Professor Jimmy Winfield runs a course called Business Ethics, which aims to open his students’ minds a little. He says that his favourite thing about teaching is, “the almost-tangible feeling that one can make a real, positive difference to many other people’s lives. Outside of medicine, I’m not sure there’s much else you can do which gives you this feeling so strongly.”

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Ryan Kruger

Associate Professor Ryan Kruger: Department of Finance and Tax

Associate Professor Ryan Kruger has taught on every undergraduate finance course offered at UCT. He says, “Students respond better when they are engaged and interested, and a lecturer who is enthusiastic about his or her subject is a big factor in ensuring that.” His teaching philosophy promotes critical and logical thinking, and encourages students to formulate their own opinions and take ownership of their learning.

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Miguel Lacerda

Dr Miguel Lacerda: Department of Statistical Sciences

Dr Miguel Lacerda does his utmost to bring his complex and often abstract course content to life. And he has exceeded all expectations, if the course feedback is anything to go by. His chief objective while teaching is to communicate content in a manner that makes it accessible and meaningful. “It is my job to bring this material to life and to instil an appreciation for it in my students.”

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Janice McMillan

Dr Janice McMillan: Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching

Dr Janice McMillan’s work is not discipline-specific; rather it’s about transformative teaching across the faculties and how to engage the wider world beyond the university. As a senior lecturer in the Curriculum and Course Design team, her community-based teaching and learning encourages students to think about themselves simultaneously as students, emerging professionals and active citizens.

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