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21 May 2019

Staff in the departments of Chemistry and Maths win King's Education Awards

Dr Helen Coulshed, Department of Chemistry and Kwok-Wing Tsoi, Department of Mathematics, have both recently won King’s Education Awards.

Kwok-Wing Tsoi with students Polina Lyubeznova and Arthur Stevens
Kwok-Wing Tsoi with students Polina Lyubeznova and Arthur Stevens

The awards, previously known as Teaching Excellence Awards, are highly competitive with more the 2000 nominations made by students. They are a chance for students to nominate their ‘shining star’ who has supported them in and out of the classroom.

Dr Helen Coulshed
Dr Helen Coulshed

Dr Helen Coulshed won in the Inclusive Education category. This award recognises an individual (or team) who shows commitment and dedication to widening participation by creating a diverse and inclusive environment, through curriculum content and design, teaching practice, and/or supporting students and colleagues.

Helen is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Chemistry and uses primary research and scholarship to design and deliver content that allows students to engage with the subject. With her colleagues, she aims to engineer interesting, challenging material and create a learning environment that encourages independent thinking and collaborative learning. Their assessments endeavour to encompass the learning outcomes for each module and the overall degree course and prepare students for future job roles. Helen spends most of her week teaching students in lecture theatres and labs, meeting with them to discuss project progress and ensuring her tutees are progressing well.

Alongside her research in chemistry, Helen is keen to follow educational research to develop and implement best practices for teaching. She is also heavily involved in Outreach and Equality & Diversity activities and is passionate about ensuring that King’s has a diverse and inclusive environment is essential to facilitate progress in teaching and research. Helen believes creating a diverse working environment, where students and staff feel able to contribute, will enable scientists and people to tackle local and global challenges in a holistic way. With support from the Widening Participation Department she has been able to engage teachers, parents and pupils from the most deprived schools in London and enable them to take up opportunities to use our facilities, speak with staff and students and obtain strategies to help them make informed decisions about studying science and applying to university.

Helen and her colleagues have also set up the NMS teaching fellow network which has enabled them to make links with other teaching fellows and the science education group CRESTEM.

Kwok-Wing Tsoi
Kwok-Wing Tsoi

Kwok-Wing Tsoi won in the Student Support category. This award recognises an individual (or team) who frequently goes the extra mile to support students in and outside of the classroom. They are committed to students in providing guidance, help, support, and encouragement outside of their required teaching responsibilities. 

Kwok-Wing has been a teaching assistant in the Department of Mathematics since starting his PhD in the London School of Geometry and Number Theory in 2015. He hosts some of the tutorials students are expected to take as part of their degree. Kwok-Wing consolidates and complements what is taught during lectures by working through concrete examples and giving feedback on assignments. This year he also delivered a `skills session‘ (an extended tutorial) to around 150 students for some of first year modules.

Kwok-Wing had a childhood dream of becoming a school teacher before discovering his interest in number theory. He explains that he enjoys teaching and is glad to have found a career path that can combine the two.

When I heard that I won the KEA, I was thrilled and humbled. As a teaching assistant, I only meet my students one hour a week. I am therefore honoured to learn that I have made a difference to their learning. The category of my award is on Student Support. However, I often think that the other way around is true - my students have underestimated how encouraging it was when 60-70 of them were willing to attend my 9 am classes. It was also heartening to witness their improvement over the course of their studies and, more importantly, seeing them regain confidence and interest in mathematics. To me, this is the biggest pleasure of being a teacher. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at National Taiwan University. I do not have any teaching duties at the moment, but when I do, I wish to integrate what I have benefit from my 8-year education in the UK with the traditional Asian education system. Winning the KEA has really encouraged me to believe in the teaching practice that I am pursuing.

Kwok-Wing Tsoi with students Polina Lyubeznova and Arthur Stevens
Kwok-Wing Tsoi with students Polina Lyubeznova and Arthur Stevens

Kwok-Wing explained he was very fortunate to have met many brilliant teachers who played a pivotal role in sparking his interest in mathematics. He says taking a leaf out of their books and sharing it with his own students is, for him, the best way to express his gratitude.

Helen and Kwok-Wing have shown exceptional commitment to teaching in many different ways and through a wide variety of activities. The impact of this engagement is evident in the glowing nominations from their students.

Professor Michael Kolling, Vice-Dean for Education

In this story

Helen Coulshed

Senior Lecturer in Chemistry Education