29 August 2013

Three University of Queensland staff have been recognised nationally as outstanding teachers.

The three have received Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning in the 2013 Australian Awards for University Teaching.

UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Joanne Wright said Dr Allison Mandrusiak (School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences), Mr Carl Sherwood (School of Economics) and Dr April Wright (UQ Business School) would each receive a $10,000 prize at the Queensland Citation Awards ceremony in Brisbane on 24 September.

The annual citations recognise the difference that university staff and industry associates make to the quality of student learning in specific areas of responsibility over sustained periods.

Professor Wright said the University was proud to see the national citations reward UQ’s tradition of teaching excellence again this year.

“Innovative teaching practices are critical for engaging students,” Professor Wright said.

“The Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning acknowledge the impact that these three teachers are having on the development of graduate attributes such as critical thinking and independent learning, and the encouragement they are giving to the next generation of leaders.

“Dr Wright, Dr Mandrusiak and Mr Sherwood boost UQ’s international reputation for learning opportunities that are engaging, relevant, challenging, rigorously assessed and, most importantly, effective.

“We congratulate them on achieving this national honour for their individual contributions to higher education, and thank them for enriching our students’ experience of learning and teaching at UQ,” Professor Wright said.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor said the Citations highlighted UQ’s reputation for continually seeking to redefine innovation in education, a pursuit which recently attracted $5.2 million from the federal government for better teacher education.

“UQ has received funding to develop a ‘Mathematics and Science in Teacher Education’ project and will be collaborating with Queensland University of Technology on another program which will also draw on the latest research into student learning patterns to promote more effective teaching of these subjects,” Professor Wright said.

Details of UQ’s Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning in the 2013 Australian Awards for University Teaching:

Dr Allison Mandrusiak was cited for transforming an unpopular cardiorespiratory curriculum from a course that previously received the lowest student feedback scores to one that consistently receives the highest quantitative scores, becoming a benchmark for all other courses in the School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences.

Drawing on her own experiences as a student and graduate, Dr Mandrusiak has introduced effective ways to reduce student concerns about acute care settings and to make the transition from ‘campus to clinic’ less formidable. She gradually exposes students to relevant clinical scenarios, such as peer role-playing tasks and inviting patients to participate in practical classes.

Mr Carl Sherwood’s citation acknowledged his efforts to inspire students with an interactive, scenario-based approach to teaching complex economic concepts so they are better able to understand the connections between economic theory and the world in which they live and work.

By including analogies and case studies in his programs, Mr Sherwood has helped undergraduate microeconomics and statistics students link new abstract concepts to situations with which they are more familiar.

Dr April Wright was awarded a citation for introducing interactive lectures and team-based learning in tutorials to overcome the challenge of engaging students in large classes, and to make connecting management theory with practice more meaningful for them.

Dr Wright has opened up community and social spaces for teachable moments, which are extended through research assignments. Her pre-class self-preparation activities for higher order thinking and team-based model has proven so effective in motivating student learning that six other universities in Australia have since incorporated them into their teaching.

Media: Corporate Relations Manager Carolyn Varley, +617 3365 1120, c.varley@uq.edu.au.