Dr Lucy Spowart

Year of NTFS award: 2020

Institution at time of NTFS award: University of Plymouth

Dr Lucy Spowart

During a 25-year career in higher education, Lucy has taught health and fitness, sports development and for five years as an educational developer, she supported academics to enhance their teaching and learner support. She now leads the masters in Clinical Education where she supports healthcare professionals to develop their teaching knowledge and skills.

Whilst there has been a shift in the subject matter that Lucy has taught, she has focused on two particular themes from the beginning. Firstly, learning and assessment should be authentic. Secondly, understanding the backgrounds and motivations of learners enables the most powerful educational opportunities. To this end, she has been influential in moving away from traditional essays and exams towards a range of authentic and inclusive assessments, such as ‘micro-teaches’ and community events. She draws on coaching and mentoring techniques to provide individualised support to her learners and to model best-practice for the educators she now teaches.

In 2012 Lucy initiated, developed and championed the professional recognition scheme at Plymouth and advised other institutions on establishing teaching recognition schemes, promoting participation at every opportunity. Lucy is concerned that the recognition process has a direct bearing on learning and teaching, inspiring her ongoing research that focuses on the impact for the sector. Her work in this area has had international impact. Lucy has a strong pedagogic research record which she draws on to influence policy and practice in the University and beyond.


Lucy recently led an international project, commissioned by Advance HE to gain a greater understanding of the impact of accreditation on institutions.

A substantial amount of data was collected from this project and the team are now interrogating a number of emerging themes such as:

  • student engagement in teacher development
  • career progression for academics on teaching focused pathways and
  • the thorny issue of evaluating the impact of teacher development initiatives.
In a separate strand of research, Lucy is working alongside masters students to evaluate the benefits and challenges of the online assessment of teaching. Her work will feature in a forthcoming edited book: ‘Agile Learning Environments and Disruption’. We employ a case study approach, with the aim of capturing the lived experiences of frontline workers (doctors, nurses, dentists, psychiatrists etc.) enrolled on the clinical education programme during 2019/20.

Lucy also has an interest in qualitative research and is co-editing a book for Routledge’s Qualitative Research in Physical Activity and Sport Series.

Lucy`s pedagogic expertise: 

  • teaching accreditation
  • teacher development
  • student support
  • student-parents
  • online learning and assessment
  • coaching and mentoring.