Citation or Excellence - Which Category is Right for Me?

Western offers a number of awards for teaching excellence, each with related but different requirements. Making the right choices for where you are and where you are headed in your career can be a challenge.

So what does Western offer? There are two major categories:

  1. Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning (hereafter "Citation")
  2. Award for Excellence in Teaching ("Excellence Award")

There is a third category, recently introduced:

  1. Award for Excellence in Indigenous Teaching ("Indigenous Excellence")

The Award for Excellence in Teaching has a number of internal thematic topics that one can apply under. The Award for Excellence in Indigenous Teaching is a standalone category and not one such thematic topic.

The Sub-Categories

With the Citation and Excellence Award categories there are Sub-Categories.

Excellence Awards require you to respond to all four. Citations require you to respond to only one.

The Sub-Categories are:

  1. Approaches to teaching and/or the support of learning that influence, motivate and inspire students to learn
  2. Development of curricula, resources or services that reflect a command of the field
  3. Effective assessment practices that bring about improvements in student learning, may have a focus on academic integrity or digital solutions, or any assessment strategies that bring about change
  4. Innovation or leadership that has influenced and enhanced learning and teaching and/or student experience

Teaching Excellence has a page limit of 8. Citations have a page limit of 4.

You can learn more about the requirements for Citations and Excellence Awards here: University Teaching and Learning Awards(opens in a new window)

So Where Should I Start?

Chances are, if you are thinking about an Award or Citation, you can see pretty quickly which of those Sub-Categories is your strong suit. Conversely, you can also probably pick out which Sub-Category is your weakest.

If you do the maths, a Citation gives you twice as much space to work with for any one Sub-Category (4 pages for one, as opposed to approximately 2 pages per Sub-Category in an Excellence Award).

This doesn't mean Citations are easier to win; however, they do allow you to focus intensively on one area you have a particular strength in. If you haven't applied for an award, promotion or other form of reward and recognition, starting with your strengths allows you to develop the skill-set in this genre of writing. It also allows you to engage in some reflective practice and some planning along the way.

If you have won, or do win, a Citation, perhaps the next step is to plan for an Excellence Award. For that, you have to scale up and out to incorporate all four Sub-Categories. An Excellence Award will require a larger evidence base and work with a broader remit than a Citation otherwise would. But you can use a Citation to build towards an Excellence Award. It just requires planning and patience.

If you do plan to go from Citation to Excellence Award, for the latter, you need to go further than what you achieved in the Citation. There needs to be signs of growth and development. It's not a case of copy and paste, or duplication. That's the same with any award or fellowship or other form or reward and recognition.

The Assessment Criteria

The Assessment Criteria that apply to all Citations and Excellence Awards (excluding Indigenous Excellence) includes the following:

  1. Positively impacted on student learning, student engagement or the overall student experience for a period of no less than three years.
  2. Gained recognition from colleagues, the institution, and/or the broader community.
  3. Shown creativity, imagination and/or innovation.
  4. Drawn on the scholarly literature on teaching and learning to inform the development of initiatives, programs and/or practice.

Regardless of what Category or Sub-Category (for a Citation) you apply for, you have to cover all of the above Assessment Criteria. The "three year" period outlined in Criterion 1 should be viewed as the anchor point for all of the Criteria. You need to demonstrate a minimum of three years--but you can go beyond this.

Your narrative and evidence-base can go back further than three years--you might be aiming to hit the high watermark over that three-year window, but the entire context of the gestation and development of the process is a part of that story.

Learning Futures

If you would like to explore the prospect of Learning Futures running a workshop on this topic, you can submit your interest via WesternNow: Customised professional learning workshops to support teaching and learning(opens in a new window)