Teaching prowess

Teaching prowess
21 November 2012

Innovative use of adaptive technologies to teach engineering and a scheme that encourages disadvantaged students into university have won UNSW two prestigious national teaching awards.

Associate Professor Gangadhara Prusty, from the Faculty of Engineering, and UNSW’s ASPRE program led by Ms Ann Jardine were among the recipients of the 2012 Awards for Teaching Excellence and Awards for Programs that Enhance Learning.

The Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, announced the winners at a ceremony at the National Gallery of Australia this week.

ASPIRE, one of UNSW’s flagship social inclusion initiatives, won its award for Programs that Enhance Learning.

ASPIRE has had considerable success in promoting university education to primary and high school students from low socio-economic backgrounds. Between 2009 and 2012, there was a 39 percent increase in the number of students from ASPIRE partner schools receiving offers from universities.

“We are thrilled and very proud to receive such a prestigious award,” said Ann Jardine, ASPIRE Project Director. “The positive feedback from our partner schools and the data on outcomes is promising. It is exciting to receive further validation.”

ASPIRE received a $4.6 million funding boost from the federal government under its Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program last year, allowing the program to expand the types of higher education experiences offered and further interactions with the local communities.

Associate Professor Prusty, from the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, won his award for combining traditional teaching with new technologies in novel ways, so that “21st century net-gen students in large classes can actively engage in learning”.

For the first time in engineering, Associate Professor Prusty initiated and developed intelligent, web-based adaptive tutorials. Developed in collaboration with the Adaptive eLearning research team Smart Sparrow, the courses have since been taken up by other Australian universities. Arizona State University in the US is also considering the resources for its large undergraduate programs.

The awards are the latest recognition for teaching excellence at UNSW. Earlier this year UNSW’s Japanese team from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Dr Patsie Polly from the Faculty of Medicine and Gwyn Jones from The Learning Centre received prestigious Citation Awards from the federal government. The awards recognise academic and professional staff who enrich student learning.

Media contact: Steve Offner, UNSW Media Office, 02 9385 1583 s.offner[at]unsw.edu[dot]au