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Dr Aidan McGowan

Dr Aidan McGowan is a senior lecturer in Computer Science in Queen’s University Belfast. Aidan’s philosophy of teaching includes a personalisation of learning, industry focus and a determination to make his teaching accurate, relevant and fun.
Queen's University Belfast
Job Title
Senior Lecturer

Aidan is particularly active with outreach initiatives in schools, promoting the discipline of Computing especially to traditionally under represented females. Aidan has had international impact with his research particularly in the use of new and novel technologies to identify new Leaner Analytics to promote retention levels of university level computing students.

Following on from several years working as Software Engineer in Europe and in the USA  Aidan began teaching in Queen’s University Belfast in 2013. Aidan pioneered the use of Lecture Capture, Bring Your Own Device, Pre-recorded Lecture Videos and the innovative use of Lab based videos within a complex programming module in one of the largest MSc Computing conversion courses in the UK. Later becoming the course director the course was rated by the PTES (2019) as the overall top performing Computing MSc in the UK for student experience.

The underlying theme of Aidan’s research area is to better understand current practise in order to lead to improvements in the education of computing. Aidan led a study in Lecture Capture which was of national recognition as reflected by its feature article in the Times Higher Education, “Videoing lectures ‘has no impact on attendance’” 24 September 2014. The findings shaped initially Aidan’s Lecture Capture and online delivery and subsequently set the gold standard for all the modules in the MSc Software Development. With the immediate need for distance learning due to Covid-19 it became the role model for online delivery for the whole university.

A separate research strand in attitudinal studies towards Computing, especially in relation to gender, has led to a range of peer reviewed publications in international journals. The findings have helped shape the Queen’s Code School initiatives and attracted significant funding for future code schools and teacher upskilling. The findings have been incorporated in the computing course marketing and has influenced a steady increase (up 63% over seven years) in female enrolments in the MSc SD course.

Aidan considers himself enormously privileged to be in a position to positively influence others’ lives through education. Aidan’s philosophy of teaching includes a personalisation of learning, industry focus and a determination to make his teaching accurate, relevant and fun. Aidan strives for these ideals and finds it enormously rewarding to see these positively and repeatedly articulated in feedback from his students, with an average of 4.9 – 5.0 Teaching Evaluation Scores (range 1-5) from all of his modules since beginning teaching at Queen’s. 

Driving for excellence, continual improvement, responding to feedback, self-reflecting and supporting his students in their learning experience are the corner stones of Aidan’s teaching. All of which are founded on putting his students at the heart of every decision he makes in relation to his teaching and directly guides his  research and outreach activities.

Advance HE recognises there are different views and approaches to teaching and learning, as such we encourage sharing of practice, without advocating or prescribing specific approaches. NTF and CATE awards recognise teaching excellence in a particular context. The profiles featured are self-submitted by award winners.