Monday, 20 June 2011

Panel Discussion - Chair: Jan Williams

Jan Williams
Since 2005 I have been Dean of the School of Health and Social Sciences. My early background is in Nursing. I was fortunate to enrol on one of the first module schemes and qualified in the late 1970s before eventually becoming a Sister in the Intensive and Coronary Care Unit of a London Teaching Hospital. I enjoyed the contact with students who were on placement in a stimulating yet emotionally demanding learning environment and decided to take the Sister Tutor Diploma that was validated by the Institute of Education. In fact I did the last of the 2 year 'remedial' courses for nurse teachers before joining the teaching staff of Bloomsbury College of Nursing. When it became clear that all nurse teachers would have to have a degree, I joined Middlesex Polytechnic as a mature student and entered the third year, courtesy of AP(E)L, of the BA Contemporary Cultural Studies. This was my introduction to Higher Education and I have not looked back.

I joined the teaching staff of MU in 1993 and have had a variety of jobs before this one, including a brief time working with Barry Jackson as the University's Learning and Teaching Coordinator and being Director of Curriculum, Learning and Quality for HSSc. The subject range of HSSc suites my interests very well. For me Middlesex University epitomises opportunity at all stages of life. Middlesex is prepared to take a risk and work with people to achieve.

My particular academic interests concern the impact of gender, ethnicity and socio-economic status on health and well being.

I am committed to collaborative working and to enhancing opportunities for staff and student exchange, to learn from each other in different contexts and settings. One of my proudest achievements is working with five European academic institutions and individual professional bodies where I led the successful validation and delivery of the European Nursing Degree. This was the first of its kind in the UK, allowing our students to spend an academic year with one of our partners, thus expanding the scope of their learning and practice experience to achieve both academic and professional recognition at the end of their programme.

Assessment as a tool to promote and enhance learning rather than only as a means of testing any learning is a passion of mine. The development of peer assessment and trusting students to do in the classroom what they are required to do in practice and to have those judgements count towards their degree classification was another achievement that I am proud of. That this work was strongly supported by the Educational Development Unit of Middlesex University in the mid 1990’s only demonstrates the rich legacy of educational development at MU that we are building on today.

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