Lecturer of the Year: “Learning is something you do step by step”

“Get students started step by step and then let them go their own way.” That's the secret of Ivo Roghair, assistant professor at Chemical Engineering and Chemistry. At the opening of the academic year Monday he was presented with the Educational Award Bachelor by Rector Magnificus Frank Baaijens. Professor Yvonne de Kort of the Human Technology Interaction group was honored with the Educational Award Master. “Teaching is like a live concert.”


Bachelor's lecturer of the year Ivo Roghair is proud of his award. He was surprised, but more by the prize money than by the win itself. “I had a good feeling about it after the pitch right before the summer vacation, and liked the idea that the academic year would start with the announcement of the winner.”

That pitch was made to the Student Advisory Body (SAO) on June 13 by two sets of three nominees. Thirteen students sit on this committee, eleven as sole representatives of each program plus two international students. The SAO is chaired by Rector Magnificus Frank Baaijens.

For four years now Ivo Roghair has been a lecturer at Chemical Engineering and Chemistry. “I graduated from the University of Twente, then obtained my PhD here at TU/e in 2012 and subsequently held a postdoc position at Twente for a short while.”

Roghair learned how to teach from his predecessors. “They taught me about structure in the courses, especially in the practicals. Having said that, I have raised the course 'Numeric Methods' to a higher level. I make the assignments incrementally more difficult and the students like that. You can compare it with levels, in just the same way as you learn skills in computer games. This prevents students from running into a brick wall because they face everything all at once, instead they learn step by step to make progress. I see them gain self-confidence and they are keen to show me that they are up to the task.”

The five thousand euros will come in handy for a family with two young children. “I really didn't know there was any prize money involved. This is the first opening of the academic year that I've experienced. I have to say I am keen to buy myself a PlayStation 4 but the students' appreciation is what it is all about.”

In her pitch Yvonne de Kort spoke about how she has developed as a lecturer. “First of all I had to discover my passion for my field, then I set about turning abstract theories into something concrete. At a later stage I paid more attention to my interaction with students and after that my lectures became more personal. Now I work in a very reflective way, wondering things like: apart from my own enthusiasm, what helps students the most?”

The Master's lecturer of the year feels that teaching is like a live concert. “You can listen to music on a CD, but being present in person makes it something much more special. Together the audience and fans make the experience, just as the lecturer and students work together to produce a good lecture.”

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