Swinburne academics rewarded for teaching excellence

Friday 19 September 2014

A low angle photograph of Swinburne University of Technology signage on the Advanced Technologies Centre building in Hawthorn.

Swinburne University of Technology academic staff have been recognised for their teaching excellence and outstanding contribution to student learning with prestigious Citation Awards from the Commonwealth Government.

The Australian Awards for University Teaching are designed to recognise quality teaching practice and outstanding contributions to student learning.

The Swinburne recipients of the Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning are: Dr Andrew Cain, from the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering; Dr Simone Taffe, from the Faculty of Health, Arts and Design; and Dr Xuemei Tian, from the Department of Information Systems.

Dr Cain, who is known at Swinburne for his innovative approach to delivering units through the use of educational technologies such as podcasts and iTunesU, won a Citation Award for expanding that to employ portfolio assessment. This shifts the focus from a student just demonstrating they understand the unit content to showing they have developed a deeper understanding of the subject area.

“This system, together with support structures and resources, help ensure that students can achieve their full potential,” Dr Cain said.

“These initiatives foster deep approaches to learning and help student’s develop confidence and independent learning skills.

“The success of my approach has been recognised by Swinburne and is now used in 13 different units, both at the Hawthorn and Sarawak campuses.”

Dr Simone Taffe was recognised with a Citation Award for the innovative use of problem based learning so that her students could tackle real-world situations.

“Working with industry briefs, rather than hypothetical briefs, requires flexibility from the teacher to overcome the complexities that arise,” Dr Taffe said.

“I act as a mentor or coach, where students learn professional skills in a collaborative environment, and my students acknowledge that this style of learning extends their knowledge beyond what they would have learnt from a hypothetical brief.

“I want my design students’ ideas to flourish in the marketplace. The innovation of my teaching approach combines my industry experience with the problem based learning approach to immerse a broad range of students in real-world contexts giving them outstanding employability skills.”

Dr Xuemei Tian received a Citation Award for excellence in flexible curriculum design and delivery to motivate and engage students in active, collaborative learning in Information Systems Management.

“The award was based on my innovative approach to learning which incorporated design of units whereby student participation and collaboration was paramount,” Dr Tian said.

“My programs were tailored to produce an innovative approach to learning whereby students became actively involved in the content delivery process to achieve maximum fulfilment of their learning outcomes.”

Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning will be presented to Swinburne staff at a ceremony for Victorian award recipients in Melbourne, on 1 October 2014.