In the lead up to the Vice-Chancellor’s Learning and Teaching awards, we are profiling all the Highly Commended Finalists.
This week, we take a look at the talented staff from Macquarie University International College (MUIC), Macquarie University’s English Language Centre (ELC) and the Library.
This year’s Learning and Teaching Awards ceremony will be held virtually on Wednesday 2 December. Register now >>
Dr May Kocatepe is a teacher of academic literacies and a moderator of the Focus on Academic Honesty (FOAH) module. She is praised by her students for her useful workshops and positive guidance.
“My role as moderator of FOAH involved providing academic guidance to students who had been found guilty by the University Disciplinary Committee of academic misconduct. The personal and academic needs of these students were different to other student cohorts in MUIC,” she says.
“During zoom meetings, a number of these students appreciated my non-judgemental tone and described me as being “like a mentor and not a teacher”.
“I care about the learning and wellbeing of students and I view students not simply as ‘learners’ but as ‘participants’ in academic communities. I provide opportunities for students to participate in the social practices associated with academic communities and I encourage them to question their own (in)visibility within academic contexts and the implications of this. Such an approach promotes the idea that students are active and valuable participants in academic communities.”
Daniel Lombardo is a valued teacher within MUIC’s department of Engineering and Information Technology who creates engaging classes and learning material for his students.
“Computer Science is a particularly difficult topic to create resources for and teach at an introductory level. In my opinion, there is this consistent perspective that computer science is a very difficult and boring field which hinders students’ ability to succeed,” he says.
“One of the great joys of teaching for me is destroying this perspective and building a new one where students realise that they are in control of the computer, they are the boss and they just need to tell it what to do. An approach that I use to foster this transformation of perspective starts with breaking problems into very simple pieces. This challenges the student’s perception as they realise that it is not actually difficult. Finally, I pose simple questions to help them identify how to combine the smaller pieces into the final solution.
“I believe that a strong rapport is critical. To establish a rapport with students I genuinely speak with them about their interests, share my interests and encourage everyone to get involved.”
When teaching Media Studies, Dr James Mackenzie places transformative learning at the centre of his teaching practice. He does this by introducing students to something they already know and allowing them to look at it in a completely different way.
“My lessons usually begin with the student’s own experience. Then once they have shared their ideas about a topic, I introduce the conceptual framework offered by Media Studies, so suddenly a new perspective is given on what they have already discussed,” says James.
“This is transformative for the students because they feel that after their lessons they can look at things that matter to them in a whole new way. This everyday strategy of fostering student engagement through transformation was also systematically included in the three units I designed for MUIC.”
“I will admit that when I first started teaching, I did feel the need to give the impression that I knew it all. But now when I don’t know something, I admit it to the students and we approach it as an opportunity to learn together. This sense that we are peers on a learning journey helps students feel respected and included as part of a mutually beneficial educational environment.”
Rose Harvey is an Academic English teacher within Macquarie’s English Language Centre. She develops innovative lessons to improve language skills and prepare students for study at Macquarie, develop an understanding of Australian tertiary environments, facilitate interaction and promote self-confidence.
“My students enter my class shortly after arriving in Australia with a unique set of needs and with linguistic, cultural and educational diversity,” says Rose.
“In order to create a classroom environment in which students feel motivated to learn and safe to experiment, I treat my students as co-creators of knowledge. My approach draws on facets of constructivism, specifically the assumption that learners are not “empty vessels to be filled with knowledge” and in contrast are actively involved in the creation of meaning and the selection and pursuit of learning.
“My work designing and implementing innovative and transformative curricula has led to improvements in the ELC’s Direct Entry programmes, which articulate students into MUIC and Macquarie. The new courses better prepare students for tertiary study through content, activities and experiences which develop relevant skills and knowledge.”
Trish Behan has been an integral member of Macquarie University English Language Centre since 2003. Over her career she has supported students and staff academically and in recent years, she has added a large focus on student mental health and wellbeing to her Senior Teacher role.
“To effectively address such issues in our institution, I engaged ELC and MQ PACE students as collaborative partners in developing initiatives unique to the ELC and Macquarie as well as showcasing these initiatives to key stakeholders in the ELC, Macquarie and the sector nationally,” she says.
“In 2018 I created a workshop to de-stigmatize mental health issues with international students and in 2019, I took this one step further, developing a mental health video called You are not Alone. This video is now used in MUIC-ELC orientation and workshops, Macquarie Business School and features in the MQ Wellbeing App.”
“It is great to see that my work in this area has not only impacted the ELC and Macquarie University but has reached the international student industry on a national level. Most importantly, student partners have developed a rich understanding of the ethical and culturally sensitive issues international students face daily in Australia.”
This talented team of engagement and advising staff is responsible for designing a series of activities and sessions that prepare students for their commencement at MUIC. This extended orientation is part of MUIC’s ME Week, a three-day event, and a crucial step in the student journey that provides students with advice about the College, their course, do’s and don’ts at university, and information about the support services available to them. Uniquely, ME Week aims to pre-empt issues that students might face socially or academically, with a focus on belonging and awareness of possible culture shock or impostor syndrome.
“We know that pathways students need extra support to achieve their goals, so we established a set of learning initiatives which focused on engaging, empowering, and evolving our students, consistent with the MUIC Teaching & Learning Philosophy,” says Inah.
“We listened to our students. We engaged internal and external stakeholders, including Student Wellbeing, RNA, MUIC/ELC Student Volunteers, MQ Sport, Careers and Employment, Delta Therapy Dogs, AUSISO, NSW Police and Allianz to deliver these workshops in safe, inclusive and innovative learning environments, away from the traditional classroom”
“During COVID-19, ME Week has been delivered online and in a blended mode. We know that ME Week is helping our students unlock their potential and enhancing their learning, by providing access to support services and an innovative learning environment.”
This team of teachers and librarians are responsible for creating The Macquarie Law School Legal Referencing Module (LRM). As members of Macquarie’s scholarly community, they are committed to enacting institutional values of honesty, respect, trust and responsibility. They seek to model these values to students by encouraging respectful engagement with the academic conversation.
“Understanding why, when and how to cite using the Australian Guide to Legal Citation style is a fundamental skill that allows law students to express ideas and present cogent arguments supported by appropriate evidence. Becoming proficient in the use of referencing reinforces the bedrock values of academic and professional integrity; however, time constraints make it difficult for referencing to be taught explicitly so we created a resource students could access any time on an as needs basis. It’s great for teaching staff too because we’ve created a block that sits within all iLearn Law units,” says Susan.
“The LRM innovates student learning by providing timely, self-paced instruction that enables students’ transition to the study of law at university. It develops their understanding of academic integrity and writing, underpins their academic learning while also equipping them with transferrable skills for lifelong learning and professional success.”
“This is particularly significant in the context of legal education, where students are required to demonstrate that they are fit and proper for admission to legal practice,” says Ilija.
Andrew Pentecost has been a respected team member of Macquarie’s English Language Centre for the last five years. He has a natural grasp for languages which has enabled him to develop into a teacher recognised for patience and clarity with international students.
“In my classes of international students I recognise a dynamic and diverse group of individuals with whom I am about to engage for an intensive period of study. I have developed the skill of creating a community of knowledge by learning all that I can about the students and helping them to learn about each other,” he says.
“I use humour and stories and I show my vulnerability so that they are not afraid to show their vulnerability through the learning process. I have found that this means they enjoy studying English despite having come to Macquarie for their major, not for English as such.”
His fellow teachers are quick to sing his praises with one saying “Andrew’s patience, professionalism and good humour in this stressful and challenging environment were truly commendable.”
Dr Pamela Humphreys, Jose Lara Herrera, Rebecca Wilkinson, Rose Harvey, Luke Thompson, Cecily van der Hout, Lesley Speer and Lesley Sender
Teaching excellence award
Director of MUIC and ELC, Dr Pamela Humphreys, led this talented team to deliver academic language and learning support to Macquarie degree students.
“There has been considerable scrutiny of the post-entry academic language and learning abilities of students with English as an Additional Language (EAL) in recent years. Language entry levels are set to be adequate for commencement but are not necessarily optimum for graduation as these skills are critical to our students’ academic success and future employability,” says Pamela. “It is therefore incumbent on us to make this everybody’s business, distributed according to our role.”
“The ELC is the University’s English language provider. While its core business for over 30 years has been pre-sessional English language courses, it has also delivered academic language and learning support to Macquarie degree students since 2004, offered on demand and at the request of faculty.
“Over this period, targeted, timely and effective interventions have been provided by our experienced team. We have delivered integrated and embedded academic language and learning support to target issues, transform learning resources, and enhance student outcomes. This has been achieved through a mix of archetypal mechanisms such as diagnostic testing, targeted workshops, co-teaching, embedding, drop-in consultations and the co-marking of assignments with discipline academics.
“In addition to supporting students as the primary stakeholder, this work also encourages and enables academic staff development to better address the needs of EAL cohorts.”