DR PHILIPPA CRANWELL: HELPING STUDENTS FROM THE START OF THEIR UNIVERSITY JOURNEY, THROUGH TO GRADUATION AND BEYOND
Dr Philippa Cranwell, Undergraduate Admissions Tutor, Lecturer and University Teaching Fellow, plays a very active role in the Department of Chemistry at Reading. You'll meet Philippa if you visit us at Open Day, and if you apply to study with us, she'll guide you through your entire journey at the University: from applying to study at Reading, to finding a placement, to taking part in a research project, and choosing a career path after graduation.
Philippa realised her passion for teaching while helping her friends revise for exams as an undergraduate student. She started to teach more formally during her PhD studies, and she now teaches students from first year to final year, in her role as Lecturer at the University of Reading.
“I've always been interested in teaching, and have always really enjoyed it, be it in a practical class or a more formal classroom setting. I like to think I'm quite approachable, so if a student has a problem or a question, they feel comfortable enough to come and ask me about it - chemistry-related or not. I will always help students and make time for them. The feeling you have when a student understands a concept or theory after explaining it many different ways, or when a student fulfils a goal, just can't be beaten.”
She was awarded University Teaching Fellowship in 2016, an accolade given to champions of teaching and learning within the University. Philippa is always on the hunt for new ways to teach chemistry, to ensure the subject is accessible, yet interesting and exciting.
“In order for students to achieve the deep learning and understanding they need, the material needs to be taught in an engaging way. I am careful to make sure that my tutorials and lectures are dynamic, and encourage participation from students. I have integrated some problem-based learning, screencasts for knowledge transfer and online tests to reiterate important concepts in chemistry. When I try new teaching innovations or material I always ask students for their feedback.”
Students as the top priority
Philippa will also support you if you're looking to undertake an industrial placement. She'll not only help you find a suitable placement, but will also regularly keep in contact during your year away from the University.
“I strongly believe that a placement is where students are really able to grow. I was lucky enough to complete a placement during my degree, which hugely benefitted my studies and developed my confidence. I try and help our students to find a placement and to support them as much as possible so they can have their own amazing experience."
researching with students
Alongside her teaching and support roles in the Department, Philippa is an active researcher. As a final-year undergraduate student, you'll have the opportunity to work directly with Philippa on your research project, and may even get your name published on a research paper.
“My students are currently working on an educational research project. If it's successful, and it looks like it will be, those students will be directly contributing to my research. If we publish, the students will be credited. For me, the students are my research group, they really do help me. They're pretty good to have around!”
getting ready for life after university
Every chemistry student is assigned an academic tutor during their time here at Reading, a role that Philippa particularly enjoys. As you make your way towards graduation, your academic tutor will actively support you with writing your CV, choosing a career path, and applying for graduate jobs.
“When you've observed a student doing really well or really developing as a student over the three or four years of their degree, it's really lovely to see them reach their goal at graduation.”