A Gambian national lecturing at the De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has been named the most innovative teacher in the country at the UK’s most highly-prized higher education awards.
According to reports, Dr Momodou Sallah was awarded the title at the 2015 Times Higher Education Awards, for his pioneering work taking students on life-changing trips to The Gambia, giving them first hand experiences helping develop communities and immersing them in Gambian culture and history.
At a ceremony held in London, Dr Sallah, a Senior Lecturer in Youth Work and Community Development, took home Most Innovative Teacher of the Year, one of the most sought-after awards, underlining the quality of teaching offered to students at DMU.
Speaking after the win, Dr Sallah said: “I am absolutely ecstatic. You don’t expect this and you don’t work to win awards but to be recognised like this is wonderful.
“This is very much a team effort, with the staff working in #DMUGlobal, Global Hands and Youth Work and Community Development deserving this just as much. It also wouldn’t have been possible without the support and vision of the Vice-Chancellor.”
On Twitter, dozens of people congratulated Dr Sallah after the award was announced and he thanked them all, saying: “Just want to say that so many beautiful people made this happen. Thank you!”
Dr Sallah’s win was for a series of international work experience trips he organised to The Gambia, taking the classroom out into the real world.
The pioneering trips involved students helping to set up a business development hub for young Gambians; staying with local families; attending local seminars and lectures and learning about colonialism and globalisation.
The trips were developed with the support of community engagement campaign group Global Hands – a non-profit social enterprise, which Dr Sallah founded and chairs – and DMU’s international experience programme.
Professor Dominic Shellard, Vice-Chancellor of DMU, said: “We congratulate Momodou on this award. His passion, commitment, knowledge and imagination are the values we most cherish in our academic staff.
“DMU offers staff and students many international opportunities and this kind of hands-on experience is immeasurably beneficial for students.”
The judges said Dr Sallah’s teaching was best summed up by one student’s observation: “It changed my life.”
The panel added: “An excellent case of truly innovative curriculum design, engaging students in deconstructing and reconstructing the curriculum, pushing the boundaries, and deepening students’ understanding and appreciation of globalisation.”
Along with Dr Sallah’s win, DMU had another nomination on the night, in the Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers category.
This was for a range of initiatives created at DMU to help improve researchers’ writing skills. The assistance was provided collaboratively between learning developers, postgraduate research students and supervisors and took the form of Monthly Thesis Drop-Ins and writing sessions, writing seminars and the creation of an annual summer writing retreat.
As a result this was noted as one of the most positive elements of their DMU experience by postgraduate research students and was identified as exemplary at the last institutional audit of research degrees in 2013.