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Bilkent University Distinguished Teaching Awards

Bilkent University uses a nomination-based teaching awards procedure, which

  • provides the teaching awards committee with documentation from students, alumni, and colleagues,
  • uses explicit criteria and requires that nominators address the criteria,
  • takes a long-term view and assesses teaching over time and over a number of different courses.

A process that results in more thought about teaching by nominators, faculty committees, Department Chairs, and Deans is expected to raise the profile of teaching at Bilkent and is likely to improve teaching at Bilkent.

1. Eligibility

Any full-time faculty member who has completed a minimum of three full years of teaching at Bilkent is eligible. (A full-time faculty member may teach anywhere from two to eight courses per year, depending on the position.) Staff or students of any “faculty” or “school” (Yüksek Okul) are encouraged to submit nominations to their Department Chair or Dean/Director, as appropriate. The Bilkent Teaching Award Committee (BilTAC) suggests that this be done through an appropriate faculty committee. The resubmission of nominations for nominees who do not win the award is welcomed in subsequent years.

The number of annual nominations per faculty or school depends on the number of full-time continuing teaching staff as follows:

  • Up to 40 faculty … 1 nomination
  • Between 41 and 80 faculty… 2 nominations
  • Over 81 faculty … 3 nominations

The exact number of nominations for each faculty will be determined by BilTAC based on the number of faculty members each year.

2. Nomination

BilTAC will send the call for nominations to Deans and Directors. The Deans and Directors will notify the Department Chairs. The Department Chair is the nominator. Each faculty/school is free to design its nomination process. One possibility is to select the nominee(s) via a preliminary vote by students. Another alternative is to form a nominating committee (possibly consisting of faculty members and students) and select the nominee(s) based on the instructor evaluations or some other form of student input. The nomination file (dossier) can be prepared by the Department Chair or a designate (a faculty member, a staff member, or a student). The nominations will go from Department Chairs to Deans. If the number of nominations exceeds the allocation of the faculty/school, the Dean will select a subset to send to BilTAC.

The documentation accompanying a nomination should provide specific supporting information addressing each of the criteria set out below. In particular, student assessments are necessary for evaluation of adjudication criteria. Student assessments should provide information about the quality of teaching over a period of years and over a range of undergraduate courses and should demonstrate the nominee’s excellence in teaching as compared to other members of the department or faculty. The results of instructor evaluations may be included. Letters from alumni are also important and provide information on the long-term effect of the nominee’s teaching. Letters from colleagues regarding teaching, course materials, range of courses and activities related to teaching, can also be valuable.

The nomination, including documentation, must not exceed 10 pages (excluding the full resume). Nominators are discouraged from submitting extensive course outlines, bibliographies, examinations, papers, etc.

Possible contents of a nomination package are as follows:

  • Nominating letter from the Chair/Dean/Director
  • Abbreviated (one-page) “teaching” resume (educational background of the nominee and their teaching experience, teaching awards, teaching-related publications, teaching workshops attended, etc., accompanied by a very brief summary of the research record if applicable)
  • Teaching statement from the nominee (teaching philosophy, methods used, evolution of teaching, innovations, etc.)
  • Summary of numerical instructor evaluations from the last 3 years (prepared by a staff member or the nominee)
  • Compilation of brief student comments (either from instructor evaluations, or from a web form created for this purpose, or generated by a student group)
  • Supporting letters (from a colleague, an alumnus, a current student) requested by the Department Chair (letters from another faculty member could comment on course materials, curriculum design, assessment, or delivery—if observed)
  • A complete resume (not subject to the 10-page limit)

Nominators can opt for variations in the contents. BilTAC recognizes that nominations from different faculties might vary considerably and encourages nominators to be creative with their submissions.

The nomination package must be submitted online through the DAIS service developed for this process. The deadline for receipt of complete nomination packages is 5:30 pm on a Friday of Spring Semester to be announced during the semester. However, the deadline may be revised and if so information regarding any change is sent to individual faculties. (Note: individual faculties may have their own earlier deadlines for teaching award competitions and for deciding upon nominations for the university-wide competition.)

3. Criteria for the Award

The adjudication criteria for the Bilkent Award for Excellence in Teaching are outlined below (not necessarily in order of importance), and supporting documents should address these criteria.

Planning for teaching and learning

– Shows excellent academic or professional knowledge of the subject matter and a clear and justifiable view of the subject matter from a pedagogical perspective
– Shows a clear and justifiable view of what learning should aim for at a university level (e.g., integrated and coherent understanding, skills, attitudes) both specific to the subject and in general (e.g. , deep rather than surface approaches to learning, independent learning, applying knowledge, critical thinking*, problem-solving, self-organization)
– Shows clear awareness of the characteristics of the students to be taught and the implications of this for teaching and learning at Bilkent University
– Follows and applies developments both in academia and practice in revising the course content regularly and proposes changes in the curriculum if necessary
– Demonstrates the above knowledge in well-planned, justifiable course objectives, course schedules and course teaching and assessment materials

Enabling learning

– Is able to put into practice well-organized teaching and learning activities that enable students to meet the aims and objectives of the specific course and university learning generally
– Is able to make clear to students the organization and rationale for the course (independently as well as in the context of the broader curriculum) and its teaching, learning and assessment activities
– Has high and consistent expectations of students and communicates them to students
– Stimulates interest, enthusiasm in the course and a desire for continued learning in the students
– Sets an example for and fosters professional behavior
– Creates a cooperative community of learners through maximizing opportunities for positive student-student interaction and student-teacher interaction both in and out of class
– Encourages and fosters independent study
– Presents the subject matter at an appropriate level of rigor
– Encourages students to be critical, to think independently and to solve problems

Assessing learning

– Provides regular and informative feedback to students on their learning progress
– Is available (and approachable) to provide appropriate support to all students
– Designs assessment tasks to be appropriately aligned with the aims and objectives of the specific course and of university-level learning in general
– Provides informative feedback on all assessment tasks
– Bases all marking and grading decisions on justifiable marking schemes and/or criteria

Evaluating teaching and professional development

– Regularly requests and responds to student feedback during the course
– Carries out experiments in own teaching practice (i.e. experimenting with nontraditional methods of delivery or technology), and uses feedback as well as self-evaluation to evolve
– Demonstrates an interest in continued learning about own teaching and student learning that feeds into future course planning and teaching
– Is a valuable resource for colleagues on teaching and learning-related issues

*Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness (from http://www.criticalthinking.org/ ).

4. Administration of the Award

The BilTAC will adjudicate the award.

The composition of BilTAC will be as follows (voting members):

  • Four full-time faculty members
  • One student
  • One alumnus
  • One member of the Bilkent Centre for Teaching Excellence

Members of BilTAC will be elected and appointed by the Bilkent Senate. Previous winners of the award are good candidates for BilTAC due to their familiarity with the process. Terms of office shall normally be two years, staggered, with the exception of the student member who shall be elected for a one-year term.

BilTAC members will receive the nominations well in advance of the adjudication meeting. Selection of the award winners will be by closed vote of the committee members, following a discussion to explore the possibility of a consensus. At least five voting committee members must be present at the meeting.

Each year up to four awards will be given. No individual may receive the award more than once.

Please click here for previous recipients.
By year:
| 2024 | 2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 |
| 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 20152014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 |
| 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 |
| 1999 | 1998 | 1997 |

Following the BilTAC adjudication meeting, the Rector or a delegate shall notify recipients by telephone call. Recipients will then receive formal written notification from the Chair of BilTAC.

Individual award recipients shall be publicly recognized at the graduation ceremony and shall receive an appropriate memento. A one-time payment will be made to each award winner. The amount of prize will be adjusted by the University Administration to keep up with inflation.

This procedure is based on the teaching awards processes at the University of Michigan, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University Alberta, and the 2006 article “Teaching Awards: What Do They Award,” by N.V.N. Chism, Journal of Higher Education (Vol. 77 (4), 598-617). This procedure was accepted by the Bilkent Senate on April 13, 2007