July 19, 2018, by Dr. Meghan Gray

Dr. Andrew Armour: 2018 Lord Dearing Award for Teaching

Today the members of the School of Physics and Astronomy celebrated the achievement of all our undergraduate and postgraduate students who received their degrees following years of hard work. It’s always a highlight of the academic year.

This year we were also delighted to see our own Dr. Andrew Armour recognized for excellence in teaching. Dr. Armour is an Associate Professor and Reader in Theoretical Physics and member of the Condensed Matter Theory research group. He received a Lord Dearing Award at today’s graduation ceremony. The awards “celebrate the world-class contribution made by a wide range of University staff who have enhanced the student learning experience.”

Dr. Armour describes himself is a ‘quantum mechanic’ and conducts research into nanoelectromechanical systems, superconducting quantum circuits, and optomechanical systems. In the several undergraduate modules he teaches he faces the formidable task of helping students develop an understanding of one of the most challenging – but fascinating — areas in physics. Anyone who’s ever dabbled in quantum physics knows this is no trivial task.

Of his approach to teaching, he says: “I seek to share with students my sense of excitement about quantum physics and to show them how it continues to evolve as a subject. I am also conscious of how counter-intuitive the material often seems at first and continually explore new ways to enable students’ learning.” For example, in his fourth-year module on Quantum Coherent Devices, students gain a deep knowledge of theoretical physics, while at the same time engaging with current research, giving seminars and projects, and developing their transferable skills.

Dr. Armour was also acknowledged for not only the content and quality of his teaching but also the innovative methods he has implemented, recognising that our students have a range of diverse learning needs. He has filmed short videos in which he works through examples step-by-step – a development clearly appreciated by the students as he was named runner-up for ‘Best Use of Technology’ in the 2017 Staff Oscars (awarded by the Student Union following student nominations). He was also one of the first adopters of video lecture capture in the School, which has been extremely popular with the student body and is now increasingly used in many modules.

Congratulations to Dr. Armour on a well-earned award!

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