In this paper teaching excellence awards are evaluated, with an eye to improving them.
Literature is reviewed and an analytic framework developed in Canada is modified to apply to the University of Sydney's Vice Chancellor Outstanding Teaching Award. Data come from 60 respondents familiar with the Sydney award and web research on the Australian Group of Eight research‐intensive universities.
Among the conclusions reached are that the Sydney award is supported even by those who have been unsuccessful in applying for it, that awards alone do not make teaching the equal to research in a university that identifies itself as a research university, awards that integrate into the university's strategic direction are powerful, and that awards that have a continuing profile ease that integration.
Along the way, several contentious points are discussed including the relationship of awards to promotion and the importance of pedagogic awareness of the reflective practitioner in picking out outstanding teachers who can articulate their approach to benefit others and to integrate with the larger purposes of the university beyond their own classroom.
Some practical means to enhance the impact of teaching awards are identified.
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