Teaching excellence

3 October 2013

Congratulations to Associate Lecturer Danny Liufrom the School of Biological Sciences who has received this year's University Co-operative Bookshop Excellence in Teaching Award.

The award recognises Dr Liu's contribution towards supporting student learning and helping to create a well-rounded student experience.

"This award recognises Dr Liu's dedication to teaching and supporting his students. His innovative use of technology helps to engage his students and pique their curiosity," Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs) Professor Marie Carroll said.

Dr Liu believes technology is an important teaching tool because it empowers and connects students with their learning.

"Infusing technology into teaching is important because it opens so many doors to engage students and meet them where they are. Students live and breathe technology so it makes total sense to use it for their learning," Dr Liu said.

Early this year, Dr Liu participated in a successful pilot to help improve student retention called Track and Connect. The initiative aimed at students in their first semester of first year helps provide both academic and personal support for students.

The pilot results found that Track and Connect halved overall attrition rates and achieved significant reductions in student attrition across all units of study.

"I think the Track and Connect program has been successful because it supports students in whatever path they choose - it provides timely support and encouragement for students just when they need it," Dr Liu added.

He has high expectations of his students and believes that if they are shown respect and given the right guidance they can do amazing things.

"Seeing students become independent thinkers and gaining confidence to tackle challenges themselves is so rewarding," Dr Liu said.

"I'd hope I have instilled confidence in my students, a willingness to keep being inquisitive and a sense of the wonder of biological life."

His own love of biology came very early on in life, when he grew potatoes in the backyard. He still feels the same wonder and excitement towards biology as he did then.

"In my first research lab experience, I remember peering down the microscope seeing something in rice anthers that no-one in the world had ever seen before. That was pretty special not only because of the pioneer aspect but also the beauty of the system. This is why exposing students early on to authentic research and discovery experiences is so crucial - we need to cultivate the inherent curiosity that all students have for biology and grow it into an appreciation of science," Dr Liu said.

The Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence presented Dr Liu with his award at the Teaching Colloquium in October. Early this year, Dr Liu's teaching was also recognised by the Office of Learning and Teaching when they awarded him a Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning (Early-Career Researcher).