Provost’s Teaching Award for departmental fieldwork guru
Recognition of Ian Patmore’s support for students
Ian Patmore, who came to UCL Geography as its fieldwork technician twelve years ago, has won this year’s UCL Provost’s Teaching Award for his work in supporting student learning.
Ian’s day to day work involves looking after three equipment stores to ensure that UCL’s fieldwork equipment is always ready for use in teaching and research. But what he most enjoys is passing on his practical knowledge to students (and staff). In this, success depends on his understanding of the environment and how it can be measured, from the coast and estuaries to mountain lochs, and everything about physical geography in between
Ian’s teaching includes supporting large groups of up to 40 undergraduate or MSc students on fieldtrips. He sets up and runs temporary laboratories and demonstrations and gives practical guidance on lab work. Students also learn how to use field equipment, from basic surveying to lake sediment coring, zooplankton collection, and the measurement of light and chemical profiles.
Ian covers the same issues in more depth with smaller groups of 4-5, typically guiding them through 2-3 day projects. Ideas are often contributed to expand or enhance projects, for example when, on a recent Mallorca field class, he suggested using an oceanographic pressure sensor to create background data for a project on coastal lagoon modelling.
A lot of help is also given to individuals, especially in preparing undergraduate and Masters dissertations. Equipment needs and instructions have to be organised, often with suggestions about field methodology. Anxieties about starting fieldwork have to be allayed, and how to deal with unforeseen circumstances. Ian has also sometimes designed and made bits of equipment to help PhD students, and provides training for them in field monitoring techniques and safety.
Basically, Ian’s job combines problem solving skills with an enthusiasm for helping students overcome the practical challenges of fieldwork in often difficult environments. As he says,
“I’m a great fan of active learning, whether from a visual or a hands-on perspective. I also greatly enjoy helping ‘non-practical’ people gain some engineering and fieldwork planning skills that will be of benefit to them both in their work at UCL and in the future.”
Ian will receive his award from the Provost at a ceremony on 10th July.
Another member of the UCL Geography support staff, Nick Mann, won a Provost’s Teaching Award in 2009 - see below.