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National Awards Acknowledge Outstanding Teachers at UniSA

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National Awards Acknowledge Outstanding Teachers at UniSA

Three academics from UniSA’s Division of Health Sciences have been recognised on the national stage for their outstanding teaching achievements.

Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning are awarded through a highly competitive process by the Commonwealth Government’s Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT).

Midwifery Program Director Dr Lois McKellar and Lecturer Cathy Kempster were acknowledged for leading the development of a sustainable model of tailored support and innovative resources to enhance the clinical learning experience for midwifery students.

Dr Nayana Parange who is Program Director of Medical Sonography in the School of Health Sciences was awarded for fostering sustained, authentic learning among tomorrow’s obstetric and gynaecologic sonographers in a fully online postgraduate course.

The citations recognise and reward the diverse, scholarly contributions made by individuals and teams who have had a significant impact on the quality of student learning in a particular area of responsibility over a sustained period.

Dr McKellar says it is a real honour to be recognised at a national level.

“It is humbling but also rewarding to know that what you do makes a difference and reflects excellence,” she says.

“It is also so good to have the profession of midwifery recognised at a national level and while we were recognised for this award, there is a team of amazing midwifery lecturers who are passionate about what they do and the students they teach.”

Dr McKellar and Kempster were recognised for their work transforming the clinical learning experience for midwifery students by addressing the unique but challenging accreditation requirements where midwifery students follow women through their pregnancy.

“Through a comprehensive revision of curriculum this requirement was embedded as a critical learning strategy and an ongoing model of support was implemented with a dedicated website, brochure, comprehensive workshops and virtual facilitation,” Dr McKellar says.

“Now, purposefully aligned across the program, students find this requirement meaningful and the support invaluable.”

Kempster says the most rewarding part of teaching is being able to guide and educate students through purposeful reflection on their experience and helping them connect theory with practice.

“I love to see the light bulb moment when it all comes together and it is so good to be a part of educating the next generation of midwives – taking them from the beginning of learning to flourishing in their knowledge.”

Dr Parange says it took a few days for the news to sink in that her teaching had been recognised by peers nationally and she was now a national award winning teacher.

“I am overwhelmed, honoured and more than thrilled to be recognised nationally,” Dr Parange says.

Her postgraduate program is delivered completely online and she was recognised for using a range of student-centred teaching strategies where students immerse themselves in authentic tasks and real world ‘messy’ clinical situations and dilemmas, to develop cognitive and affective domains, cultivate problem solving skills and learn clinical diagnostic reasoning in obstetric and gynaecologic ultrasound.

“These methods have motivated students and transformed learning in the online environment,” Dr Parange says.

“This has led to meaningful interaction, effective learning and impact beyond the classroom, equipping graduates for successful clinical practice as sonographers.”

Dr Parange says it gives her immense satisfaction to see students develop, thrive and succeed.

This award was actually the third for Dr Parange in recent months. In early October she was announced as a recipient of a 2016 Effective Practice OLC international award from the Online Learning Consortium in the United States. This will be awarded during the 22nd International conference on online learning, OLC Accelerate, in Orlando Florida in November.

The Online Learning Consortium is a highly respected professional organisation dedicated to quality online learning worldwide and she was one of only eight to receive this prestigious award.

“It is very humbling to be recognised as an effective online educator on an international platform,” Dr Parange says.

The OLC Awards recognise the tremendous advances in online learning that result from the ideas and initiatives of individuals, colleges and universities around the world.

OLC’s Effective Practice Awards are peer reviewed and “recognise effective techniques, strategies and practices that are shared by members of the OLC community to advance quality and access to online programs”.

“My students continually inspire me to think of creative and innovative ways to share and bring learning to life in an online environment, which can be quite challenging with students across different time zones in various parts of the country and overseas, especially while teaching a clinical course,” Dr Parange says.

“I am surrounded by an excellent team of dedicated academics who care about students, and influence what I do.”

In September Dr Parange was also presented with a national award from the Australian Centre for Leadership for Women, in the category of ‘Empowers Rural, Regional and Remote Women in a Community or Organisation in Australia’.