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University staff awarded for outstanding contributions to student learning

18 September 2017
Teaching and learning initiatives recognised with awards

University of Sydney staff have received four Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, as part of the federal government’s Australian Awards for University Teaching.

A group picture of the 7 award winning staff

At the awards ceremony: back row (l-r): Associate Professor Mark McEntee, Dr Gillian Nisbet, Associate Professor Brendon O’Connor, and Professor Adam Bridgeman. Front row (l-r): Associate Professor Christine Jorm, Professor Pip Pattison, and Associate Professor Rosanne Quinnell.


University of Sydney staff have received four Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, as part of the federal government’s Australian Awards for University Teaching.

The citations were presented by Senator The Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training, on 14 September at the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Sydney.

Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning recognise and reward the diverse contributions made by university staff to the quality of student learning, and come with a $10,000 prize. They are awarded to academic or professional staff who have made a significant contribution in a specific area of responsibility over time.

“Congratulations to our four citation recipients. This is excellent recognition of their outstanding and innovative approaches to teaching and learning,” said Professor Pip Pattison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education).

“It’s wonderful to see the diversity of disciplines that our citation winners work in and the impact they are having in student learning across the University,” said Professor Pattison.

Mark McEntree

Associate Professor Mark McEntee

Associate Professor Mark McEntee

Associate Professor Mark McEntee, from the Faculty of Health Sciences, received his citation for enabling student enquiry in diagnostic imaging through an innovative, media-rich learning environment that provides multi-stage feedback on learning activities.

I think the award is a tremendous vindication of the excellent work of my colleagues Phil Goody, Sonya Corcoran and Terry So, without whom this amazing work would not have happened,” said Associate Professor Mark McEntee.

“The continued existence of these awards is an encouraging indication of the federal government’s commitment to quality in teaching at university level.”

In his classes, he provides a variety of active learning experiences, gives real-time feedback, and makes lessons more flexible and responsive to student needs. He has individualised student success, putting the learner in the middle of the lesson. As a result, his students have improved satisfaction, feel more prepared and achieve higher grades.

“I led a team to create MRSflix and used this as the infrastructure for a flipped classroom pedagogy. Based on the NetflixTM model of on-demand video streaming and progression, MRSflix provides students with a seamless, convenient interface to watch videos, while providing them with real-time feedback on how they are progressing with video completions,” explained Associate Professor McEntee.

Associate Professor Brendon O’Connor

Associate Professor Brendon O’Connor

Associate Professor Brendon O’Connor

Associate Professor Brendon O’Connor, from the United States Study Centre and Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, received his citation for making a difference in students’ lives by teaching United States politics and interdisciplinary studies in a clear, comprehensive and creative manner.

“This recognition is a healthy reminder from the government that teaching matters. However, the real prize for me is teaching the smart and engaged students that I have in my classes at the University of Sydney,” said Associate Professor Brendon O’Connor.

“In several of my units, I encourage students to write creative pieces in response to reading historical, philosophical, literary and political texts. This has led to students writing brilliant poems, short stories, songs, speeches, and dialogues.”

“Students often care a lot more about writing creative pieces than standard essays, because it gives them the opportunity to express themselves and unleash their creative potential. Reading these creative pieces has inspired me to be more creative in my teaching and in life in general.”

HCC team photo

The health team received their citation for innovation in interprofessional learning for health students using videography and peer assessment.

Dr Christopher Gordon, from the Sydney Nursing School, Dr Gillian Nisbet, from the Faculty of Health Sciences, Associate Professor Christine Jorm, from the Sydney Medical School, Associate Professor Tim Chen, from the Faculty of Pharmacy, and Associate Professor Chris Roberts, from the Sydney Medical School, received their citation for innovation in interprofessional learning for health students using videography and peer assessment.

“The national recognition is the culmination of years of interprofessional education with health students. We have been developing the Health Collaboration Challenge over many years and this award is evidence of the hard work and educational expertise of the team,” said Dr Chris Gordon.

“We have developed a validated peer assessment tool for large scale interprofessional learning. This tool can be used for formative and summative assessment of teamwork collaboration with large numbers of health students undertaking an interprofessional activity.

“Our innovation provides educators with a validated assessment tool where students can assess other students work without the need for educator marking. This is conducive for use in large-scale interprofessional activities for healthcare professional students,” explained Dr Gordon.

“It is well-known that health professional students need meaningful interprofessional learning activities with other health disciplines, so we designed an innovative interprofessional learning activity, where health student groups produce a short video that demonstrates their teamwork and management of challenging clinical cases.”

Associate Professor Rosanne Quinnell

Associate Professor Rosanne Quinnell

Associate Professor Rosanne Quinnell

Associate Professor Rosanne Quinnell, from the Faculty of Science, received her citation for sustained contributions to designing and developing innovative, flexible e-learning tools to inspire engagement with the complexity of botanical systems.

“I think it’s important that botany is recognised as being relevant to the contemporary science degree curriculum and this citation is a great acknowledgement of that,” said Associate Professor Rosanne Quinnell. “It’s also important that these resources are available beyond the classroom, so anyone can learn about our wonderful plants.”

BotanyOnline has links to all e-learning resources used in teaching botany, including the botany virtual slide box. For CampusFlora it has been as much about the process of having ‘students as partners’ as the product itself,” explained Associate Professor Quinnell. 

“The CampusFlora app has morphed into a mechanism to offer more than just botanical narratives: the system now offers tree maps at Camperdown, Darlington, Roselle, Lidcombe and Camden campuses. We have a series of walking trails at Darlington, Camperdown and Lidcombe to encourage all members of the campus community to get outside and enjoy our wonderful trees.”

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