Award-winning teaching styles revealed

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Here at UWS, we are fortunate to have teaching staff who strive to ensure the University delivers on its motto of "Bringing knowledge to life". Last year Joanne Lind, from the School of Medicine, received the prestigious Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) award for Teaching Excellence as well as a UWS Learning and Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching. Five UWS staff members also received an OLT Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning: Catherine Attard, Jane Hunter and Kaylene Kritharides from the School of Education; Gu Fang from the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics; and Roman Goik from the School of Humanities and Communication Arts.

What are some of the secrets of their success?

Joanne Lind – who teaches into the Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery program – says a unique aspect of her teaching style hinges on linking molecular science and genetics with the real world. "I do this by getting the students to be active participants in the class," she explains. "I make sure I incorporate real-life cases into my teaching and demonstrate how research and scientific evidence inform clinical reasoning."

One example of how Joanne does this involves showing a YouTube video of a professional soccer player experiencing cardiac arrest during a match. She then introduces the students to the underlying disease and links changes at the molecular level and current research of the disease to the clinical presentation. "These interesting examples engage students in what otherwise could be decontextualised facts about clinical conditions – they get to see an example of a real case and then understand the molecular basis of what occurred."

Joanne also uses self-drawn animations, real-time quizzes and iPad apps in her teaching. "The videos and animations are used to cater for different learning styles and are complemented by traditional lecture notes," she says. "The quizzes test students on present and past material, giving them a gauge of their knowledge as well as providing feedback to me on how well the material being presented is understood."

Catherine Attard from the School of Education teaches Primary Mathematics and Numeracy 2. Catherine says one of her biggest challenges is changing the negative attitude students have towards maths, which often stems from their own schooling experience. "I do this by engaging students in relevant and interesting content," she explains.

Catherine provides hands-on, interactive activities in her classes that link theory with practice. "The assignments I set replicate activities that practising teachers are expected to engage in," she says. Catherine also uses YouTube and runs a technology-based tutorial where students engage with robotics and explore their application in a primary classroom.

"I also demonstrate the use of iPads in lectures and tutorials, sharing some of the findings of my research into the use of tablets in primary mathematics classrooms," she says. As many of her students will, in the future, be working in classrooms that integrate iPads into their learning and teaching, this is particularly important.

Using technology is also something that Jane Hunter, a Lecturer of Human Society and Its Environment (HSIE), says is an important part of her teaching style. She also notes "classroom discussion, hands-on learning involving historical artefacts, a good dose of passion and really getting students to think about the socio-political contexts in which they will eventually work" as unique aspects of her work.

Jane has been using Lecture Capture as well as iPad and iPhone technology and applications such as Twitter and iMovie in her teaching. "Flipping" (a form of blended learning where students learn by watching video lectures at home and work on other content in class with their teacher's guidance) is something I want to use more of this year, as well as Augmented Reality and QR codes," she says.

Jane says her current teaching method has been quite successful. "I have had two students in the past two years enter national, highly competitive education competitions for innovative teaching and learning and both students have been successful," says Jane. "Principals have contacted me and said they want to hire specialist HSIE teachers from UWS because they are implementing cutting-edge programs in schools. This is a great outcome.

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