The winner of the Wageningen Teacher of the Year Award 2017 is Jessica Duncan, lecturer at Wageningen University & Research. The jury unanimously decided to award her the prize for her engagement with her students, the clear link she established between research and education and her innovative teaching methods. The other nominees for the Award were Frits Claassen, Gert Peek, Marleen Buizer, John Beijer and Henry van den Brand. All those nominated receive a cash prize of 2500 euros. The Award winner is also presented with a replica of the sculpture ‘De Leermeester’. The award ceremony took place on 6 April.
Jessica Duncan is a relatively new face at Wageningen University & Research. For three years now she has been involved in education at the Rural Sociology Group, coordinating three courses and teaching several others. She has a background in the unusual combination of food policy and food culture. She has a strong interest in the subject, but above all loves teaching, concluded the jury based on the effort she puts into the use of different teaching methods to reach the students. For Jessica
Duncan, evaluation is not only something teachers subject their students to, but also the other way around. Duncan makes sure this happens by introducing an evaluation moment only two weeks into her course. This shows she is actively engaged with her students and she helps them to overcome the obstacles on their way to a future in science. She takes students with her to conferences and gives them the opportunity to participate in fieldwork or to co-author articles. “Someone who puts so much energy into her students and contributes to developments in both research and education fully deserves this award,” said the jury in its evaluation report.
The shortlist of nominated candidates that was presented mid-March was a combination of familiar and new faces. Marleen Buizer, John Beijer and Henry van den Brand, just like Jessica Duncan, were nominated for the first time. Two of those nominated had received the award previously: Gert Peek (2000 and 2011) and Frits Claassen (2012).
The Teacher of the Year is decided on by the students. All students in the second year and higher can vote for any of the 250 best teachers selected based on course evaluations. More than 26% of the students voted. The number of votes, corrected by the number of course registrations, resulted in a longlist of 16 teachers. The student jury, chaired by Jaap Kerr, interviewed these teachers and drew up a shortlist based on this and the student input. The students spoke to the candidates about their personal vision on teaching and excellent education, and about how they motivate their students.
The Teacher of the Year Award is an initiative of the University Fund Wageningen. The award is intended to stimulate high-quality education at Wageningen University & Research. The money awarded to the winning teacher and nominees is intended to be used for educational purposes. This winner also receives a replica of the sculpture ‘De Leermeester’ by Jan Praet, the original of which stands in front of De Leeuwenborch.