16 March 2017

Alexei Karas and Ingmar Swart win Teacher Awards 2016-2017

Alexei Karas
Alexia Karas

The winners of the UU Teacher Awards 2016-2017 are Alexei Karas and Ingmar Swart. Both lecturers were nominated by members of Utrecht University's many study associations.

Economist Alexei Karas won the Outstanding Teacher Award 2016-2017. Chemistry and Physics lecturer Ingmar Swart, won the Teacher Talent Award. 

Outstanding Teacher Award

Alexei Karas is Associate Professor of Economics and Head of Department at University College Roosevelt (UCR). Students commend Alexei for his passion and for the way he tailors his teaching style to address every type of student. He continues his explanation in all kinds of creative and diverse ways until eventually every student understands the subject completely.

Evidence-based vision on teaching and learning

The jury recognised that Alexei's teaching style reflects his evidence-based vision on teaching and learning. ‘Alexei keeps up with all the recent developments in pedagogy and he uses them in his constant search to improve his teaching’. The jury also commended Alexei for his use of innovations that give students control over their own learning, and for the fact that he collects data to determine whether these innovations actually improve students' learning.

The jury was particularly impressed by the fact that he makes economics 'fun' by embodying economic concepts and by including current societal issues in his teaching. For example, Alexei gets his students to simulate an economy by buying 'smiles' from each other using euros, and then subjects this student economy to an economic crisis. ‘Alexei Karas was the most formative and inspiring teacher I ever had in my life. His ability and effort to understand the needs of students is unparalleled,' says UCR student, Max Smeets.

Ingmar Swart
Ingmar Swart

Teacher Talent Award

Ingmar Swart obtained a Master's and a doctoral degree from Utrecht University and is currently an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Physics. Ingmar's vision on teaching and learning is based on the combination of research and education. He applies this in such a way that his students actually become enthusiastic about scientific research. Ingmar actively involves students in research, and even his Bachelor's students are full-fledged members of his research group.


In his teaching, Ingmar smoothly combines classical teaching methods with innovations such as voting tools and pencasts. Pencasts allow students to see how Ingmar works on a mathematical problem on paper and, at the same time, to hear his spoken explanation. That way, students can learn at their own pace, they understand the material better and it frees up class time for other learning activities.

The jury described Ingmar as a rising star of Utrecht University, applauded his passion for educating the scientists of the future and was impressed by the senior tasks that he is already fulfilling, such as chairman of the Board of Examiners for Chemistry. 'Very few lecturers are as involved with the lab and help students with their personal development in terms of critical scientific thinking and improving their academic skills,' says Angela Melcherts from the university's chemistry society USS Proton

Docentprijs UU 2016-2017
The nominees for the Teacher Awards 2016-2017

Education Fair

The Education Fair is a day for and about education at Utrecht University By bringing students and teachers together each year, the Education Fair hopes to make a substantial improvement to the improvement of education. This year's theme was It takes two to tango – internationalisation at Utrecht University. 

Outstanding Teacher Award and Teacher-Talent Award

Utrecht University has been awarding the Outstanding Teacher Award and the Teacher Talent Award to outstanding teachers who engage, challenge and motivate their students since the 1990s. Every year, members of Utrecht University's study associations are given the opportunity to nominate a teacher for these awards. The winners are ultimately chosen from a shortlist of nominees by a jury comprising of outstanding teachers and students from Utrecht University on the basis of stringent criteria. Criteria include, for example, the creation of interaction with students and contribution to students' learning experience. The official award ceremony will take place during the university's anniversary celebrations on 27 March.