Sydney academics dedicated to the student experience

28 June 2011

Sandra Seno-Alday in University of Sydney Business School received an Early Career Citation.
Sandra Seno-Alday in University of Sydney Business School received an Early Career Citation.

Seven University of Sydney academics have been recognised for their outstanding contributions to teaching and learning with Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Citations.

The Citations reward sustained commitment to the student experience, and also include a $10,000 grant.

For the first time the Citations this year include 'Early Career' Citations for those who have been in the higher education sector for no more than seven years. Two University of Sydney staff - Dr Roger Bourne and Sandra Seno-Alday - have been recognised in this category.

"We sincerely congratulate the seven staff members who have been recognised in the ALTC Citations," says Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education).

"Identifying and nurturing excellence in teaching is at the heart of our strategy, so we are delighted to see this external recognition.

"By cultivating best teaching practice at all levels, we aim to provide a consistently high quality student experience."

Citations can be awarded to academic and general staff and institutional associates who have made significant contributions to student learning in a specific area of responsibility over a sustained period.

Winners are chosen from a selected group of nominees put forward by the University's Institute for Teaching and Learning.

Dr Carol Nicoll, Chief Executive of the ALTC, noted the importance of recognising early career achievers to encourage continued engagement with students into the future.

"I am very confident that the winners of this year's Citations will continue to make a lasting impact on the student experience," she said.

The Citations will be presented at the national Awards and Citations ceremony at the Sydney Opera House on 16 August.

The University of Sydney Citations are:

  • Helen Drury

For a decade of innovative online programs supporting student report writing in science and engineering

Helen Drury is the Head of the University's Learning Centre. Her distinctive achievement can be seen in the development of the WRiSE site (write reports in science and engineering), which is designed to help students understand the structure and language of report genres in their disciplines. She was instrumental not only in gaining funding for these developments, but also in their design, implementation and evaluation. WRiSE has been successful in finding ways to improve student writing in science and engineering and bringing about a change in culture about the importance of writing in these disciplines.

  • Associate Professor Leon Poladian

For innovative mathematics service teaching that motivates first year life sciences students in a large class setting by incorporating authentic, contemporary and socially significant material

Associate Professor Polladian has been successful in motivating students from the life sciences in large, compulsory mathematics units, including his redesign of the first year undergraduate unit Mathematical Modelling (MATH1013). While most of these students do not have an intrinsic interest in mathematics and often have a negative attitude towards the subject, Associate Professor Polladian's innovative teaching promotes productivity by using relevant context and contemporary applications. He has also successfully developed teaching and learning in more advanced units.

  • Professor Kathryn Refshauge

Professor Refshauge creates an inclusive learning environment with opportunities for each student to develop a variety of individually meaningful attributes in preparation for diverse careers

As Deputy Dean and Professor of Physiotherapy, Professor Refshauge has supervised to completion 40 higher degree research students, many of whom have presented their findings in prestigious conferences and top-ranking journals. Her approach to teaching and learning sees PhD education as a process that includes cultural and social elements in addition to the acquisition of research and professional skills. Much more than the production of a thesis, the learning experience should extend beyond the completion of the PhD to ensure life-long learning and facilitate significant societal contributions. Professor Refshauge also received an Excellence in Higher Research Degree Supervision Award in this year's Vice-Chancellor's Teaching Awards.

  • Dr Peter Rutledge

For creative approaches to chemistry teaching that engage and inspire students and significantly enhance their learning experience

Dr Rutledge teaches chemistry to all years of the undergraduate program in the Faculty of Science, using a range of innovative strategies to explain concepts and enthuse his classes. He uses interesting language and metaphors to engage students with difficult concepts - 'molecular communism' and 'the Saturday Night Fever conformation' make more interesting terms than electronegativity and antiperiplanar. Dr Rutledge is also actively engaged in research and research training, as well as community outreach through his role as the RACI Nyholm Youth Lecturer. Dr Rutledge was awarded an Outstanding Teaching Award in the 2011 Vice-Chancellor's Teaching Awards.

  • Dr Charlotte Taylor

Engaging in sustained innovation, evaluation and sharing of teaching initiatives and learning experiences for very large first year cohorts in the biological sciences

In her role as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences, Dr Taylor has provided authentic learning activities that encourage students in very large first year cohorts to think and practise like a biologist. She has consistently shared resources and experiences with teaching colleagues by running curriculum workshops, developing teaching websites and establishing mentoring relationships with demonstrators and tutors.

Early career:

  • Dr Roger Bourne

For development of innovative curricula and teaching tools that inspire students to learn

Since he began teaching in 2007 in the Discipline of Medical Radiation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Dr Bourne has aimed for the students he teaches to become reflective practitioners. While students in this discipline are often very strongly focused on vocation, Dr Bourne has implemented numerous strategies to develop students' appreciation of the value of deep learning and research. This includes developing the study of medical digital imaging with the introduction of a 'hands on' MRI system. Using remote access, the system placed his discipline at the forefront of learning and teaching in the world in this area. Dr Bourne also received an Outstanding Teaching Award in the 2011 Vice-Chancellor's Teaching Awards in May.

  • Sandra Seno-Alday

For effectively designing integrated assessment systems that inspire active and progressive learning, leading to increased dynamic learning capacity

As course coordinator and lecturer for International Risk Management, a compulsory unit for international business majors in the University of Sydney Business School, Sandra Seno-Alday motivates students to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world scenarios while also challenging the boundaries of their thinking. The vast majority of these classes consist of international students experiencing Australian study for the first time, but Seno-Alday has been able to move beyond the challenges presented by such large, diverse classes to encourage each student's active and progressive learning.

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