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Lucy Coburn and Ciara Corr
Lucy Coburn and Ciara Corr
Megan Wilson and Hannah Barnes
Megan Wilson and Hannah Barnes

The Undergraduate Awards are advertised each year in Stranmillis as staff encourage students to submit their work. This year an unprecedented FOUR Stranmillis students were ‘Highly Commended’.

The Awards give undergraduate students the chance to have their work anonymously assessed by an independent and international panel of judges. UA started in 2009 with a mission to recognise great undergraduate coursework in Ireland, but has since expanded worldwide. Being named a Global Winner, Regional Winner or a Highly Commended entrant means that the students’ work has been identified as the best in their field, compared to global undergraduate coursework.

For the academic year 2016/2017, The Undergraduate Awards Programme received 6,432 submissions from students in 299 institutions across 47 countries in 25 different subject/area categories.

Lucy Coburn

Last year Lucy Coburn was a Year 4 Post-primary Technology & Design student at Stranmillis, and not only was she ‘Highly Commended’ in the Education category of the Awards, but she also won the Regional Award in that category for the island of Ireland. Under the supervision of tutor, Dr Michael Ievers, Lucy’s submission was a re-working of her dissertation entitled, ‘Is Enough Done to Incorporate Literacy into Technology and Design?’
Lucy was delighted by the news of her success: “With Technology and Design as my main subject and English as my subsidiary subject, when it came to picking a topic for my dissertation, I knew that the incorporation of literacy into Technology and Design was the area I wanted to research further. No matter the subject, literacy forms an integral part of every lesson you teach.  As George Sampson (1921) stated, ‘Every teacher is a teacher of English because every teacher is a teacher in English.’ I am now a fully qualified teacher with my own classes in St Mary’s Grammar School, Magherafelt, and I strive to promote literacy within my classroom, regardless of the subject I am teaching.”

Ciara Corr

Patricia Corrigan, Senior Lecturer in Business and Enterprise suggested to final year BEd Post-primary student Ciara Corr that she should submit her Business Strategy Report to the UA’s Business category. Her report investigated the future strategic direction of Ryanair – a very topical issue!!
Ciara said: ‘I am truly overwhelmed with this achievement. Submitting my work has created more opportunities. All highly commended students receive a certificate commending their work, access to the Alumni Portal and an invitation to the Global Summit, a three-day event in Dublin. This recognition has boosted my confidence in my ability to pursue my goals. Therefore my advice to other students would be submit your work and believe in yourself. I cannot thank Stranmillis enough for the support and opportunities available.'

Two Primary BEd students whose dissertations were supervised by Dr Richard Greenwood reached the ‘Highly Commended’ stage. Both were on aspects of Outdoor Learning. Dr Greenwood is one of the Undergraduate Award judges for the Education category, but he quickly had to ‘declare an interest’ and withdraw from the judging process when he realised he was reading some familiar material!!

Megan Wilson

Megan commented: ‘It’s been really affirming to have my work recognised by the Undergraduate Awards. My dissertation was based on my experience as an Erasmus student in Norway in Year 3 as I contrasted Norwegian teachers’ perceptions of outdoor learning in Norway with those of teachers in Northern Ireland. Achieving a ‘Highly Commended’ status for my research has validated my interest in outdoor learning and has further motivated me to continue working in this area! Having already completed my dissertation, the process of submitting it to the UA was relatively simple, I just had to reduce my word count to fit their criteria! Following that I didn’t expect too much to come from my submission, so it was fantastic to be recognised. Currently I am working as an Education Assistant for the National Trust at Mount Stewart, where we are in the process of planning an outdoor learning programme for primary school pupils, focused on the conservation of the red squirrel and the estate’s natural woodland. Through this work I am able to put the recommendations of my dissertation in to practice, and I can see first-hand the positive impact of outdoor learning on primary school pupils!'

Hannah Barnes

Hannah responded: ‘I was pleased to be asked to submit my dissertation on KS2 educators’ perceptions of outdoor learning. It was most definitely worth cutting the essay down- although it was a difficult task to cut it almost in a half. Receiving the recognition of being ‘highly commended’ amongst a global pool of essays has been a great achievement for me.
My dissertation has been helpful, as I have now gained part-time employment with Speedwell, an organisation dedicated to outdoor learning. I also teach P6/P7 in Orchard County Primary School as a job share.’

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