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Published: 2022-08-05

Mathematician and computer scientist receive pedagogical award

NEWS Lisa Hed, associate professor at the Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics, and Lena Kallin Westin, associate professor at the Department of Computing Science, are awarded the Faculty of Science and Technology's Pedagogical Prize 2022.

Text: Ingrid Söderbergh

It's great to be appreciated for the work you put in and it motivates me to keep trying to do 'that little bit extra'

Two prizes are awarded this year because the Faculty Board wants to recognise the faculty's teachers a little extra for their efforts during the Corona pandemic. The prizes of SEK 30,000 each will be awarded in connection with Umeå University's spring graduation ceremony.

"It feels great to receive this prize and I feel surprised, touched and honoured! It's great to be appreciated for the work you put in and it motivates me to keep trying to do 'that little bit extra'. When I found out I was one of the winners, I was at home in the family quarantine having corona. This fun news really brightened up the grey everyday life" says Lisa Hed.

Lisa Hed completed her PhD in mathematics in 2012 at Umeå University and from April 2015 she has been a permanent lecturer in mathematics at the Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics at Umeå University. In 2016, Lisa Hed was named a merited teacher at Umeå University and in 2017 she received the NTK's pedagogical prize.

Relatively short after her dissertation, Lisa Hed took over the responsibility for the course Financial Mathematics at the advanced level. She read up on the subject, gave the course, realized its development opportunities, implemented these and has since gradually developed the course. The course is now one of the most popular mathematics courses at advanced level and year after year, evaluations highlight Lisa Hed as an exemplary teacher.

Inspired by a project at the University of New South Wales, Lisa Hed and a colleague have introduced MS Teams as a complementary platform to Canvas in the course One-Dimensional Analysis 1 to activate students and improve communication and collaboration. In the same course, she has also introduced an examination system based directly on the expected learning outcomes of the course, rather than on the total score of the exam as traditionally done. The system is seen as an example and has gradually been replicated in other courses.

Unfortunately, the pass rate for the first mathematics courses is low for many of the faculty's programmes, resulting in high dropout rates. Lisa Hed has become involved in this problem and is contributing work to develop support strategies.

The second winner, Lena Kallin Westin, is an associate professor and head of the Department of Computing Science at Umeå University and has been a driving force in teaching for three decades.

"I was super excited about the award! Often the only feedback you get on your teaching is from the students, and of course that's important and fun too, but to be recognised by my colleagues and the faculty makes me feel even more honoured and appreciated" says Lena Kallin Westin.

Lena has taught a large number of the department's courses and more recently mainly introductory courses, an example of the latter being the course Programming Techniques with Python with many students from different programmes and with very varied prior knowledge, which in turn poses significant pedagogical challenges. Inspired by theories from Mastery Learning and formative feedback, Lena Kallin Westin has devoted many hours to modify the design and develop a high performing course with satisfied students, good throughput and good goal achievement.

Lena Kallin Westin's broad knowledge and pedagogical leadership contribute to the department's development both in terms of subject didactics and professionally. She is ready to give advice, discuss pedagogy and course content, both on a formal level and when it comes to practical problems and everyday challenges. Her previous assignment as Director of Studies contributes to her extensive knowledge of rules, organisation and practice and she makes a great effort to share this knowledge.

Today, a large part of her working time is taken up by administrative work in her role as Head of Department, a post she has held since the beginning of the year.

Prize motivations:

"Lisa Hed receives the award for her exceptional teaching skills and her strong commitment to education at all levels. Her creativity enhances the quality of education and inspires colleagues. She has a unique ability to motivate students and is a highly valued teacher."

"Lena Kallin Westin receives the award for her long-standing and strong pedagogical leadership and broad expertise in educational issues. She is instrumental in developing the quality of education and supports colleagues and students in an exemplary and appreciated way."

Press photos

For more information, please contact

Lisa Hed
Associate professor, research fellow