University wins sought after international award for its revolutionary approach to teaching

Date 9.04.2018

The University of Northampton is celebrating today after coming top of the class in a prestigious global competition that looks for the brightest new approaches to teaching.

The accolade is for a guide developed by the University to help teaching staff provide students with important life and work skills and not just academic knowledge.

The downloadable guide beat entries from over 140 other Universities to the renowned Innovation Award, which was announced at a ceremony in Boston, USA on Friday.

The guide, also known as the COGS (Changemaker Outcomes for Graduate Success) Toolkit, was developed by a team led by Dr Rachel Maxwell from the Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, in collaboration with staff from all four faculties and professional services.

Dr Maxwell said: “It is an honour to receive one of the Innovation Awards. We are absolutely delighted to have won, and it is testament to all the hard work that has gone into this from across the whole University. It has been a real team effort and this team approach was key to our success.”

The annual awards are run by Ashoka U, an international organisation that supports those Universities looking to make society better.

“The guide is very much in keeping with our goal to ‘do good things’, and it is fantastic to be recognised for our work in achieving this,” added Dr Maxwell.

COGS is a key feature of the University’s Review of Assessment which is currently underway for all undergraduate programmes at the University – already awarded TEF Gold by the UK Government to indicate the highest standards in its teaching.

For the first time, the toolkit brings together curricular and extra-curricular projects that support student development, and helps staff assess how well students are doing at both.

Dr Maxwell said: “The outcomes of the Assessment Review mean that from September 2018, we will consistently provide academic teaching that develops the skills and attributes most valued by employers. These include skills to develop individual self-management and collaborative ways of working, whilst supporting students to make positive changes in society, by instilling ethics, integrity and values.

“So it doesn’t matter whether they are studying Engineering or English, Geography or Games Design, all our students will develop the skills that better prepare them for their chosen career and the wider world.”

Finalists in the Innovation Award were selected based on the level of innovation, impact, scalability, and replication potential of their initiative.

Now in its seventh year, The Innovation Award is Ashoka U’s top honour for higher education programs in social innovation education. It recognizes pioneering teaching models, co-curricular programming, community partnerships, and research.

AshokaU, the global association of the world’s leading universities, supports social entrepreneurs working together to create solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems.

The University of Northampton was the first in the UK to be awarded Ashoka U status in 2013.

The COGS (Changemaker Outcomes for Graduate Success) Toolkit can be downloaded from the ILT site

Photo: Rachel Maxwell (right) and Head of Academic Practice, Shirley Bennett, show off the AshokaU Innovation Award.