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Inspiring lecturers: teaching awards for academics who are enhancing the student learning experience


Sharlene King
2 February 2017

Three Southern Cross University academics have received awards from the Vice Chancellor – and praise from students – for delivering inspirational first-year study units that help in the transition to University.

The Vice Chancellor’s Citations for excellence in teaching and learning, awarded at a ceremony at the Lismore campus yesterday (February 1), recognise and reward the diverse contributions that individuals and teams make to the quality of student learning.

Dr Rob Garbutt in the School of Arts and Social Sciences and Dr Hanabeth Luke in the School of Environment, Science and Engineering each received a citation in the Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning category.

Dr Rebecca Olive in the School of Arts and Social Sciences received her citation in the Excellence in Student Engagement category.

“The measure of any University is the eminence and commitment of its teachers,” said Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker.

“I am delighted that we have colleagues with such a gift for inspiring learning and who really embody the Southern Cross ethos.”

Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning

Dr Rob Garbutt in the School of Arts and Social Sciences: For enabling students in the arts and social sciences to successfully find their way into university culture as beginning students and as beginning researchers.

Ajita Cannings, a former student of Dr Garbutt’s who now works as a teacher at Lismore High School, was full of praise for Dr Garbutt.

“Coming from a low-achieving background I was not convinced that I would cope with or fit in at university. I had no idea what 'undergraduate', let alone 'postmodernism' meant, and I was ashamed and scared of that,” Ms Cannings said. “Rob was such a wonderful teacher because he made the content totally accessible, relevant and interesting and was completely dedicated to his students. The Written Communication unit was fun, critical and relevant and he was organised and enthusiastic.”

Ms Cannings was awarded a Bachelor of Arts and Graduate Diploma of Education from Southern Cross University.

“During my first assignment - a one paragraph response - I wrote Rob an email saying I was really struggling. I was in tears fighting my own ideas about myself and abilities that I still carried with me from the past. Rob picked up the phone, coaxed me through, and I never looked back. He also taught me the value of asking for help, a great lesson at the start of five-and-a-half years of uni!” she said.

Dr Hanabeth Luke in the School of Environment, Science and Engineering: For opening the world of science to commencing students: Laying powerful foundations in scientific thinking through empowering and inclusive delivery.

"Hanabeth’s enthusiasm and dedication to teaching well are outstanding and deserve the recognition,” said Sophie Cotton who is studying a Bachelor of Biomedical Science and a Bachelor of Laws to pursue a career in medical ethics.

“She can often be found going the extra mile to help students engage in the material and fully grasp the concepts. Hanabeth is an example of what an educator should be about - transmitting passion to students to discover and know more deeply the world around them."

Excellence in Student Engagement

Dr Rebecca Olive in the School of Arts and Social Sciences: For generating student engagement in learning about Cultural Studies ideas and theories by applying them in the classroom.

“Dr Rebecca Olive is one of the best tutors I've had the pleasure of learning from during my three years of study at SCU,” said Liam van Dugteren, a social science student.

“She is incredibly well-informed in her specialist area of gender and sexuality studies and has a great ability to link current developments in this academic area of studies with highly relevant issues in the media and wider society. Rebecca makes class an interactive experience by engaging with all members of her class and fosters an inclusive, respectful and stimulating learning environment.”

Liam said Dr Olive embodied the words of Albert Einstein: ‘It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge’.

“She is both an inspirational teacher and provides her students with the means of expanding their academic knowledge by providing clarity and relevance in explaining the theoretical foundations of the unit topics.”

Photo: Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker (right) with (clockwise) Dr Hanabeth Luke, Dr Rebecca Olive and Dr Rob Garbutt, and Professor Andrew McAuley, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education).