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Professor Heather McQueen

Professor Heather McQueen is an award-winning advocate of student-centred learning and research-led teaching, and supports colleagues to take a scholarly approach towards helping students flourish. Her teaching innovations have led to published research on aspects of collaborative online learning, Facebook groups and good scholarship, active learning and personalised, constructive learning in lectures.
The University of Edinburgh
Job Title
Professor of Biology Education

Heather is Professor of Biology Education and Associate Director of Teaching in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. She holds degrees from Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities, and Senior Fellowship. In 2014, after many years of interest and experimentation around the use of learning technologies in her large undergraduate biology classes (alongside her fruitful research career in molecular genetics), Heather was selected as a finalist for the Bioscience Teacher of the Year award. The work that led to this award arose, like most good things in her career, from great collaboration, a scholarly evidence-based approach and a spirit of adventure. The student participants of this study increased not only their course scores but the quality of their learning, as demonstrated across diverse assessment tasks.

 Fired up by this success, she further published research projects, exploring student attitudes around the use of closed Facebook groups for learning, supporting good scholarship, active learning and personalised constructive learning in lectures. This last project established a novel form of the flipped classroom known as a 'quecture' that makes use of students' own questions for learning via interaction and discussion within lectures, with clear benefits demonstrated. All of these projects have been enriched by co-creation with students or by having students as partners in research. As an advocate of student-centred learning and research-led teaching, Heather has established herself in a new role as ‘Associate Director of Teaching for the Scholarship of Learning and Teaching’ within her School, to better support colleagues to take a scholarly approach towards helping their students flourish. In line with this goal, she has established a School Learning and Teaching Forum, a supportive learning community for colleagues working towards Fellowship, a pedagogical seminar programme and organised local and national education-themed conferences, all encouraging discussion and personal development of colleagues. Heather is a Director of the Midlothian Science Festival and a fully qualified IMDT dog trainer. She has worked part-time for the last twenty-two years and is married with three children and two dogs.

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.