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Meet the Teaching Excellence Award winner: Dr Mags Blackie
Author: Corporate Communication and Marketing/Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking [Rozanne Engel]
Published: 17/02/2021

Dr Mags Blackie is no stranger to winning awards.

The senior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science at Stellenbosch University's (SU) Faculty of Science at Stellenbosch University (SU) has won numerous awards over the years.

Blackie won the 2020 South African Chemical Society Education Medal, the 2015 HB and MJ Thom Award for overseas research, the SU Teaching Fellowship 2020–2022 and most recently the 2020 Distinguished Teacher Award for her ongoing commitment and hard work as an excellent teacher.

According to Blackie, winning the Distinguished Teacher Award feels like “a moment of celebration" in the midst of a long journey and validation for the complex path that she has chosen to walk.

“My first teaching job was in a high school between my Bachelor in Science (BSc) and BSc Honours degrees. I thoroughly enjoyed it and very nearly stayed teaching, but I am glad I chose to study more. At the time, I decided to take what I called 'the path of least regret' and has been teaching at university level since 2007," says Blackie.

She chose the field of chemistry after being inspired by her aunt and godmother who was a well-respected chemistry teacher. After her aunt died, Blackie decided to honour her memory by working hard at school in chemistry, which turned out to be something that she was good at.

Blackie holds her BSc degree from Rhodes University, a BSc Hons degree and a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Cape Town and is currently completing a PhD in Education from SU.

“As I began as a PhD student I realised that chemistry (at least what I do – making new molecules) is creative and I discovered my own creativity in my chemistry research. In the last decade, education research has become more and more significant to me, and combines the various passions I have – chemistry, teaching and human development."

Apart from her passion for science, Blackie says she also has a significant interest in Christian spirituality and have helped others in their faith journey too. She has a blog and has written numerous papers and a couple of books on the topic of spirituality.

Despite the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, Blackie feels positive about the year ahead.

“This year is going to be a significant year for me. I am an editor on two education research books that will be published this year and I am part of a multinational longitudinal project following chemistry and chemical engineering students through their degrees. It has been a great learning curve for me working with some of the leaders in higher education and engineering education in the world. I am hoping that some of the work that will come out this year will have an impact on tertiary science education in South Africa."

More on the SU Teaching Excellence Awards

Launched in 2017, the SU Teaching Excellence Awards acknowledge lecturers in two categories, 'Distinguished Teacher' and 'Developing Teacher', based on their experience and leadership in the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Applicants have to submit a portfolio that demonstrate their reflection on and evidence of four main components: context, students, knowledge and professional growth. They also have to indicate the lessons they had learnt on their journey to becoming excellent teachers.

For more information about the Teaching Excellence Awards, contact Dr Karin Cattell-Holden at ​