National Teaching Fellow 2008
Brian Whalley is Professor of Geomorphology in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology at The Queen's University of Belfast where he has taught and researched since 1975. He was Head of School for eight years and during this time was responsible for enabling teaching quality control procedures for progression through the university's subject review. He was also a member of the University Teaching Enhancement Committee - which was an opportunity to think more widely about student learning opportunities in times of increasing class sizes. His teaching efforts have been directed towards providing a learning environment which fulfils student needs for the 21st Century.
Brian is a long-standing member of the British Society for Geomorphology (BSG) and was Chair of its predecessor, the British Geomorphological Research Group. He currently sits on the BSG Education and Outreach Committee and is currently organising support for teachers of geomorphology at schools and in the F&HE sectors. For twenty years he has organised and been a facilitator for the BSG's 'Windsor Workshop' held at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park. This 3 day events is designed for new postgraduates in the field and has provides a venue for highlighting and practicing research techniques and skills well before such courses became fashionable. The workshop attracts new geomorphology researchers from across the UK and Europe.
He is on the focus group of the HEA Subject Centre: Geography, Earth and Environmental Science (GEES) and regularly contributes to its workshops and journal 'Planet', and is also a facilitator for 'e-learning' in the GEES departmental workshop scheme. Brian has a long-standing interest in 'e-learning' and most of his teaching innovations are located on his personal and module websites. He is a member of the Association for Learning Technology and currently sits on its Research Committee.
Brian sees the ability for students to solve problems as an important part of education. He is currently examining ways to improve student feedback and engagement using problem solving and 'Just-in-Time Teaching' ideas. Fieldwork is an important part of geography and especially with geomorphology (the study of landforms) laboratory and experimental work. Dealing with large classes can be difficult but the ability to use equipment in the field or lab is an important part of students' field experiences so he is using problem-based learning techniques and the identification of 'troublesome knowledge' and tacit knowledge to help provide an integrated range of learning opportunities.
Brian is a long-time advocate of skills and employability in the undergraduate curriculum and set up a 'Geoskills' module as well as 'Geography at Work' for final year students. He has been awarded a QUB Teaching Prize for innovation in e-learning and as part of team prize for the 'Geoskills' module.
Professor of Geomorphology (*now retired*)
Queen's University Belfast