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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

Innovative lecturer short-listed for top teaching honour

Published: 2 September 2016
Southampton lecturer James Wilson
Health Sciences lecturer James Wilson

Health Sciences lecturer James Wilson has been short-listed for one of the most prestigious teaching honours in UK higher education.


James, a  Lecturer in Mental Health at the University, is in the running to be named ‘Most Innovative Teacher of the Year’ at the 2016 Times Higher Education Awards.

Since 2004, James has introduced a range of innovative participatory theatre methods to his lectures for nursing students at Southampton, including the development of a novel type of immersive theatre in the classroom known as Higher Education Academic Theatre (HEAT). This involves an electronic audience response system – or ‘clicker’ – engaging the audience and involving them directly in deciding which actions the actors will take during as-live situations as they unfold.

By doing this, James has transformed the classroom into an interactive theatre where the learning experience allows students to rehearse their future roles in caring for vulnerable people with an emphasis on enhancing empathy, understanding, dignity and respect. To date, his methods have directly benefitted over 10,500 Southampton students.  

“I’m delighted to be nominated for ‘Most Innovative Teacher of the Year’ and look forward to the awards event in November,” said James. “Education should be about empowering students to ask the difficult questions while creating an experience in the classroom that is meaningful and prepares them for their careers facing the challenges of professional practice. We explore and expose students to the emotions of those future experiences in a way that’s impossible to achieve just by lecturing.”

This year’s Times Higher Education Awards will be announced on Thursday 24 November at a gala dinner in London. James is hopeful of emulating fellow Southampton academic Simon Kemp, Principal Teaching Fellow in Engineering and the Environment, who won the Most Innovative Teacher honour himself in 2013.



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