UNE teachers honoured in national awards

Published 29 October 2012

They were honoured in a ceremony in Sydney last month.

Sue Gregory, a lecturer in the School of Education at UNE, was recognised for her “innovative adaptation and expansion of virtual world technology to enhance learning and teaching in education and across disciplines”. Dr Janelle Wilkes, who lectures in UNE’s School of Environmental and Rural Science, received her award for “addressing deficiencies in numeracy of students in engineering, so as to reduce mathematics anxiety and influence, motivate and inspire students to learn”.

Their prizes consisted of $10,000 each, and travel and accommodation to attend the awards ceremony with their families.

Sue Gregory’s innovative methods in teaching through the implementation of virtual worlds have led to significant engagement, immersion and collaboration of students. Mrs Gregory has collaborated with many academics within UNE, nationally and internationally. She began the Australian and New Zealand Virtual Worlds Working Group in 2009, which now has more than 190 members. This research and collaboration have informed Mrs Gregory’s teaching.

As an engineering lecturer, Dr Wilkes’ contribution to student learning has been to create a supportive environment, acknowledging students may be under-prepared due to increasing university entry pathways and can suffer from mathematics anxiety. She has developed innovative ways of providing additional support where needed through scaffolded resources to meet the mixed needs of a student group.

Vice-Chancellor Jim Barber said to receive a citation was a great honour.

“UNE is very proud of the achievements of Mrs Gregory and Dr Wilkes who have both made significant contributions to enriching student learning at the University.

“Online learning is a subject I am passionate about, and Mrs Gregory has been recognised for working with this evolving medium to improve the learning outcomes for students.

“Improving numeracy in engineering students has been Dr Wilkes motivation to reduce mathematics anxiety and inspire students to learn.

“Two very different areas but both inspirational examples of UNE’s commitment to innovative teaching and giving students an exceptional student experience.”

The Australian Awards for University Teaching are designed to recognise quality teaching practice and outstanding contributions to student learning. It is intended that recipients, with the support of their institutions, will contribute to systemic change in learning and teaching through ongoing knowledge sharing and dissemination, for example, presentations within the learning and teaching community, collegial mentoring, pairing and networking, and involvement in university and higher education committees.