National Teaching Fellow 2009
Dr Helen Walkington is Principal Lecturer in Geography at Oxford Brookes University and her pedagogical mantra is 'geography is learnt through the soles of your feet.' She has used reflections on her own research experience to inform her teaching, where she has created opportunities for students to carry out field-based research through placements, expeditions, fieldtrips and experiential learning courses.
Helen was awarded a University Teaching Fellowship for her project to start a journal of undergraduate research for the geography department. She then created a national journal of undergraduate research in geography, GEOverse, and has developed this over the last three years across four different partner universities.
"Helen's innovative work on engaging students in undergraduate research is some of the most interesting and exciting happening currently in the UK. Helen's enthusiasm and energy ensures that students on her courses, and those at other universities who are involved with her initiatives, are given the opportunity to celebrate their work publicly." (HEA Senior Advisor for Geography).
When Helen was awarded a fellowship by the Reinvention Centre, the Deputy Director commented "through her Reinvention Fellowship Helen has taken the lead in embedding undergraduate research in the Geography curriculum at Brookes; something which the rest of the University is now working toward emulating." These projects all aim to create opportunities for undergraduates to gain research experience and for their work to be disseminated through undergraduate research conferences and journal articles which are professionally published for a wide audience.
One student author commented: "This journal has enabled me to have a much clearer and in-depth understanding of what the requirements are when writing to publication standard. This has benefited many other students too as it gives them a standard to aspire to, a way of getting their work read, beyond simply being marked and moderated, and engages students with their subject more critically."
Helen has embedded research and fieldwork opportunities in all her taught modules. By promoting greater involvement of undergraduate students in research she has created a shift in departmental and school research cultures across a range of institutions.
Principal Lecturer in Geography
Oxford Brookes University