News

Two awards for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning



30 August 2013

Staff in the Faculty of Science have won two Citation Awards for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning from the federal government's Office for Learning and Teaching: Associate Professor Fiona White and Dr Caleb Owens, from the School of Psychology, and Dr Danny Liu, from the School of Biological Sciences.

Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning recognise and reward the diverse contributions made by individuals and teams to the quality of student learning. The 2013 citations, worth $10 000 each, will be presented at an awards ceremony on 17 September at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

Dr Caleb Owens and Associate Professor Fiona White, from the School of Psychology, have won a Citation Award for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning from the federal government's Office for Learning and Teaching.
Dr Caleb Owens and Associate Professor Fiona White, from the School of Psychology, have won a Citation Award for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning from the federal government's Office for Learning and Teaching.

The awards recognise higher education staff across Australia who have made a significant contribution to the quality of student learning in a specific area of responsibility over a sustained period, whether they are academic staff, general staff, sessional staff or institutional associates.

In addition to the two awards in the Faculty of Science, the University of Sydney has won a further six 2013 Citation Awards for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, reaching the maximum of eight citations that the Office for Learning and Teaching awards to any one institution.

"Great teachers inspire and motivate our students. I congratulate all the award recipients for the enthusiasm and dedication they have shown to their students," said Dr Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney.

Associate Professor Fiona White and Dr Caleb Owens, from the School of Psychology, won their citation for outstanding contribution to developing and evaluating the innovative 'Constructive Feedback and Plagiarism Reduction' program that helps to improve writing skills and successfully reduced plagiarism rates.

The two led the development and evaluation of an innovative series of classroom strategies involving independent writing exercises, online mastery quizzes on correct referencing, and peer and tutor evaluation of student writing modules, to promote quality writing and reduce plagiarism rates across a seven-year period.

Their program findings have been disseminated nationally and internationally, and provided the cornerstone approach for developing guidelines for educating students about academic honesty at the University of Sydney.

"It is a true honor to receive a national award and the recognition that goes with it. It caps off our 2012 Vice Chancellor's award for enhancing the Student Experience," said Associate Professor Fiona White.

"This national award recognises our seven-year and ongoing effort of developing and evaluating research-led teaching interventions to improve Psychology students' writing skills and reduce plagiarism to nearly zero levels. The award acknowledges our significant efforts during a time when such work sometimes goes unnoticed in the highly competitive research focused tertiary sector in which we work," said Associate Professor White.

"The award will spur us on to develop and evaluate even better classroom interventions to improve student academic writing, and continue to publish our findings in peer-reviewed journals."

Dr Danny Liu, won his Early Career Citation for developing innovative technology-enhanced and inquiry-based teaching practices and curricula that inspire and motivate a new generation of scientists.

Dr Danny Liu, from the School of Biological Sciences, has won an Early Career Citation Award for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning from the federal government's Office for Learning and Teaching.
Dr Danny Liu, from the School of Biological Sciences, has won an Early Career Citation Award for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning from the federal government's Office for Learning and Teaching.

Working with large undergraduate cohorts with diverse backgrounds and career trajectories, Dr Liu has developed innovative teaching approaches using technology to engage and motivate students. His students work through a range of novel student-centric and inquiry-based learning activities that stimulate their curiosity and motivate students to develop deep critical thinking skills.

"It was a huge honour to be nominated by the University for the Early Career Citation, let alone to actually receive the award from the Office for Learning and Teaching," said Dr Liu.

"I'm really thankful for the opportunities that I've had to learn from and now work with great teachers who taught me, especially working with Dr Charlotte Taylor who has patiently mentored me. I'm also really grateful to the many students who I've had the privilege of introducing to the wonders of biology, and for their curiosity, resilience, and encouragement.

"Having an early career category for these OLT Citations is really encouraging because it makes you realise that you can actually make a difference so early on and in a short period of time," said Dr Liu.

"More generally, these citations and similar awards are really important because it helps the university community recognise that teaching is an important and worthwhile investment. They're also important because it encourages educators to keep thinking about their teaching and strive for continual improvement."

Read more about the Office for Learning and Teaching's Citation Awards for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning at: www.olt.gov.au/awards/citations


Contact: Katynna Gill

Phone: 02 9351 6997

Email: 0e4a27375a08236b0613583606353808185d4a7b37110d180037