Two Swinburne academics have been recognised for exceptional teaching at Australia’s highest awards for university lecturers.
Dr Reza Tajaddini and Dr Sabina Sestigiani were honoured for their exceptional contributions to student curriculum and innovative teaching methods at this year’s Australian Awards for University Teaching.
From the Faculty of Health, Arts and Design, Dr Sabina Sestigiani was recognised for creating an engaging approach to Italian Studies using theatrical performance and drama activities.
Dr Sestigiani obtained a Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education in 2015, which inspired her to craft a more engaging teaching method.
“I had been thinking of how to replace the artificiality of textbook-based grammatical exercises with more authentic learning activities,” Dr Sestigiani explains.
“I was after something that required active participation of students, like an extended and engaging role-play, where students could be challenged with authentic queries and encouraged to seek solutions to real problems.”
Dr Sestigiani introduced the reading and appreciation of a contemporary Italian play as part of the learning curriculum in 2014. After noticing improved student results, she introduced an exercise of collaborative writing (students actively re-wrote sections of the play in Italian) and a theatrical performance as part of the course assessment.
“The performance proved to be a great motivator for learning, providing an enhanced authentic learning experience,” she says.
“Learning a second language through the theatre is a transformative and inspiring learning practice because of the element of authenticity embedded in the performance.”
Dr Reza Tajaddini, Finance Discipline Leader and Lecturer in Finance, was cited for the development and implementation of a blended learning approach to teaching accounting, that has produced significant improvements in the international post-graduate learning experience.
“It is clearly the most important teaching recognition that a lecturer in an Australian University can achieve,” says Dr Tajaddini.
“I am so proud and grateful for that.”
In 2014 Dr Tajaddini took over the convenorship role of a core unit for the Master of Professional Accounting (MPA), which attracts more than 200 students a year.
Dr Tajaddini was faced with the challenge of engaging international students and providing a quality learning experience.
“It was clear that a complete overhaul of the unit was required, and that the unit’s content needed to be redeveloped.” Dr Tajaddini says.
“Looking for a solution, I started participating in learning and teaching workshops exploring learning design approaches. It was there that I became passionate about blended learning.”
In 2016, Dr Tajaddini obtained a Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education from Swinburne.
“Completing the Graduate Certificate guided me to the latest developments in the field of education,” he says.
“I highly recommend this Grad Cert to anyone who intends to work in academia as a lecturer or instructor.”
Established in 1997, the Australian Awards for University Teaching recognise quality teaching practices and outstanding contributions to student learning. Recipients are encouraged to further contribute to change in learning and teaching through the sharing of ideas and knowledge.
Dr Tajaddini and Dr Sestigiani are among 89 Australian university teachers to be cited by the Australian Awards for University Teaching.