The Rhodes University Distinguished Teaching Award is presented annually to a new staff member with ten or fewer years’ experience of teaching in higher education who is able to demonstrate exceptional contribution to teaching in his/her discipline. The process involved in receiving this award is quite rigorous and includes: a) nomination from a student(s), b) provision of a teaching portfolio where one demonstrates engagement with the scholarship of teaching and learning and evidence of opportunities for students to learn how knowledge is constructed, c) lecture evaluation by a committee of past recipients of the award and d) an interview.
This year, our very own Gladman Thondhlana was the recipient of this prestigious award. Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Gladman arrived in Grahamstown in 2009 as a PHD student in the DES. Since then he has completed a post-doctoral fellowship with Prof Sheona Shackleton, lectured under the Kresge Accelerated Development Programme, and become a Senior Lecturer in the DES. While Gladman recognises the importance of research in his role as an academic, he describes how he derives the greatest satisfaction from teaching as he views it as a direct channel to make the greatest impact. In this sense, Gladman describes this award as “fulfilling” as it provides affirmation from students and colleagues that he has contributed to the lives of others. While this award affirms his teaching methods, Gladman emphasises that he will continue to value the opinions of his students and peers, and incorporate their feedback into his teaching approaches and methods.