Murdoch staff recognised for outstanding contribution to student learning

May 24, 2018

Four academics have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to creating an exemplary learning environment at Murdoch University.

Cassandra Berry, Mary Anne Kenny, Christian Mauri and Sheila Mortimer-Jones have each won a Vice Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence in Enhancing Learning. Each winner is awarded $2,000 to spend on enhancing student learning at Murdoch.

CHRISTIAN MAURI

(EARLY CAREER CATEGORY) CENTRE FOR UNIVERSITY TEACHING AND LEARNING

Christian Mauri engages students by getting them to visualise the author behind written works so as to conjure up a distinct voice along with an expressive face to make readings more interesting.

What motivates/inspires you?

In terms of my current work with OnTrack, I'm motivated by being at the front line of the university. Commencing university can be like entering into a strange and intimidating world. As if walking through the woods without a torch or a map, some students just follow the path in front of them by attending activities and submitting assignments until they eventually complete their journey. I believe that this is something that can be effectively addressed at the outset to the benefit of both the student and the university.

How did you come up with the idea which has earned you this recognition?

My students find my emphasis on visualisation to be very useful. I encourage my students to look up images and interviews of the people that they read. When my students read texts, I encourage them to imagine sitting with the author in a cafe or at a party, with coffee or red wine at hand, patiently waiting for them to finish their point, or paragraph, so that they can reply. The effect is to make reading a kind of imaginative dialogue, in which authors are humanised and key points, as with any worthwhile conversation, call for a response.

In your opinion, what makes a good teacher?

We share a workplace with able and eloquent humans, and it is in large part their (that is, our) wisdom and welfare that determines the quality of the teaching and learning environment. I think that being attentive to collegiality and community can help make for good teachers.

PROFESSOR MARY ANNE KENNY

SCHOOL OF LAW

Mary Anne Kenny teaches law in a fun, interactive and engaging manner, which demonstrates using the law as a tool to create positive change.

What motivates/inspires you?

Refugee law, human rights and immigration law are areas which really impact upon individual rights.  It is great to see many of my former students go on to work in human rights or immigration.

What does the award mean to you? 

Most of my teaching is in teams with other colleagues, for example, Street Law and at the international human rights program in Geneva, so I think it is recognition of the terrific innovative programs we have been able to develop at the School of Law.

In your opinion, what makes a good teacher? 

Providing opportunities for students to see that what you are teaching and what they are learning has a particular application and relevance for themselves and the community.

PROFESSOR CASSANDRA BERRY

SCHOOL OF VETERINARY AND LIFE SCIENCES

Cassandra’s idea to create a hypothetical island “disaster scenario” called Paradise Puzzle to engage students to think creatively through research in the real world has won her the award.

What motivates/inspires you?

I enjoy helping students to gain confidence in both knowledge and skill sets but most importantly to love learning itself.

What drew you to the field of health and medical research and why is it important?

There are many diseases even today without cures or treatments. I have an interest in different pathogenic microbes (viruses and bacteria) that cause infectious diseases and can jump species barriers from animals to humans. I have largely focused on vaccine design and development throughout my career.

In your opinion, what makes a good teacher?

A good teacher is a caring teacher who can empower and enthuse every student to open their eyes wide to learn, no matter what their background. To be self-motivated to explore and absorb new knowledge is the key to the effective process of learning.

Anything else you think was important to mention?

Education is a gift and learning how to learn and acquire knowledge can be perpetually rewarding to the people involved but also the understanding of applied knowledge or wisdom is of tremendous value to society and our nation's economy.

DR SHEILA MORTIMER-JONES

SCHOOL OF HEALTH PROFESSIONS

During her teaching, Sheila realised that students did not enjoy bioscience or understand its relevance to the nursing field, so she actively integrated the first-year bioscience unit with nursing theory to create a fun learning environment.

What motivates/inspires you?

Observing the effect of my teaching on the students – transforming fear of science into knowledge and enthusiasm.

What drew you to the field of Nursing and why do you think it’s important?

I saw an advertisement for mental health nurses in the Readers Digest when I was living in Cyprus in 1980. Mental illness wasn't talked about very much at the time, and I felt that maybe I could do some good.

In your opinion, what makes a good teacher?

Being able to explain concepts in simple terms.

What would you like to accomplish at Murdoch?

Run a successful mental health skills workshop for nurses.

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