A SCOTTISH university physicist has won prestigious fellowship that will see him visit two world class universities to further his ambition of developing the next generation.
Dr Paul Campbell, from Dundee’s School of Science and Engineering, will work alongside a Nobel laureate and other leading figures from Harvard and Stanford universities to learn about innovative teaching strategies that have led to improved student outcomes.
Dr Campbell won the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Fellowship which will see him visit Harvard next month and Stanford in early 2021to speak with both students and staff.
He will discuss the success of initiatives focussing on enhanced engagement, with a particular focus on those that have led to a reduction in dropout rates.
The latter aspect is a particular passion of Dr Campbell’s and it was his determination to ensure that vulnerable groups are not excluded from higher education that led him to apply for the Churchill Fellowship.
He said: “Dropout rates remain too high across the board. One focus for this Fellowship is to begin to identify which students tend to be at risk of not completing their degree, and to try to understand whether there are common root causes for such situations. Factors such as gender, educational background and social demographics may all have a role to play and I hope that my analysis allows us to identify the dominant risk factors and develop suitable countermeasures.
“Whilst a student’s particular background circumstances may represent one risk factor here, it should be recognised that another is the environment within universities themselves. One thing we do know is that passive listening in the traditional 50-minute lecture often leads to a lack of student engagement, leading to under performance, failure to fulfil potential, and, ultimately, to Physics and other disciplines being deprived of both volume and diversity in their next-generation workforces.
“Recent research in the US has been successful in addressing the problem and my plan is to visit the innovators who have led this improvement in order to redevelop their strategies for the UK. Ultimately, I want to implement a system of methods that foster engagement and ensure that the most vulnerable groups are protected.
“This Fellowship represents an incredible opportunity to make a massive difference in a field that I care deeply about, namely the enhanced education and training of our next generation of technically adept and scientifically creative workers.
The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust administer the Fellowships, a unique programme of overseas research grants that support UK citizens from all parts of society to travel the world in search of innovative solutions for today’s most pressing problems.
The Trust awards 150 Fellowships each year to enable outstanding individuals to travel for 4-8 weeks anywhere in the world while researching a topic of their choice among global leaders in their field. On their return, they are helped to share their findings with professions and communities across the UK.
The Fellowships aim to empower individuals to learn from the world and transform lives across the UK and cover seven universal themes in society: healthcare, education, the environment, technology, communities, culture and the economy.