Gary has made international impact through creating and delivering innovative learning experiences that challenge students and build technical knowledge whilst equipping them with professional skills and connecting their learning with their career aspirations.
He has been recognised for supporting the academic development of colleagues internationally, including through two EU-funded projects in Asia, which have led to government policy change. Gary has particular expertise in authentic learning, building inclusive learning communities and supporting students’ transition into and out of higher education.
Whilst still a doctoral student, Gary transformed the first-year linguistics curriculum in Sheffield, recasting difficulty as manageable challenge and introducing authenticity and engaged, active learning to ensure students acquire skills to transition from A-Level, and fire them with enthusiasm for the subject. His students created AllAboutLinguistics.com, as an authentic assessment; it won an international Google education competition, and became a resource respected by educators globally. This work also led to Gary becoming Sheffield’s youngest Senate Fellow for Teaching Excellence.
Gary’s student engagement work extends beyond active learning. He pioneered approaches to enable true collaboration with students in learning design and pedagogic consultancy, recognising the unique expertise that students bring to curriculum design. He undertakes action research and has published in this area.
Having established his profile as an educationalist, Gary has applied his approaches across disciplines. He was instrumental in designing Sheffield Engineering Leadership Academy (SELA), a unique co-curricular programme for high-potential undergraduate engineers. Under Gary’s leadership, the programme links learning to issues affecting engineering in our region and country, giving students a platform for genuine influence and impact and an opportunity to discover their agency in effecting positive change. SELA is receiving wide external recognition, partnering with companies such as Dyson, IBM and Rolls Royce, and its students are now specifically sought out by industry.
Building on this work, Gary is leading the design and implementation of a professional skills framework for mechanical engineers, which moves from foundational skills in first year, to tailored opportunities for students to reflect, select and develop skills relevant to their aspirations by final year. Gary firmly believes in using authentic opportunities to inspire students, help them transition and discover their passions, whilst surprising themselves with their own capabilities.