Award for teaching ‘future colleagues’ - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Award for teaching ‘future colleagues’

14 Dec 2015

Games of wheelchair basketball, inspiring guest speakers and even ice baths are all part of the teaching process for one University of the Sunshine Coast senior academic.

Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy Dr Michele Verdonck was among 12 committed USC staff and teams to receive a USC 2015 Advance Award – the second year in a row she has received such an award.

The University presents Advance Awards annually to recognise staff who have contributed to advancing quality teaching, the student experience, or blended learning (the fusion of educational technologies and teaching in physical and virtual environments).

Dr Verdonck said she aimed to bridge the divide between academic content and fieldwork by bringing hands-on, practical exercises into the classroom.

“Students seem to respond well to activities like playing wheelchair basketball during the course, or I’ll invite people with disabilities and their family members to share their experiences with students,” she said.

“It makes students want to come to class and it certainly makes them more engaged once they’re there.

“I think of students as my future colleagues. They’re developing professionals, not just students, so it’s important to give them a taste of what being an occupational therapist is like.”

USC Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Birgit Lohmann said the winners of the 2015 Advance Awards reflected USC’s innovative and supportive teaching and learning environment.

“There were 122 nominations from students in 2015 and the calibre of applications submitted was very high,” Professor Lohmann said.

“These Awards have been given out since 2013 and they recognise the wide breadth of contributions that all members of USC staff make towards delivering a high-quality USC experience.”

The winners of Advance Awards for 2015 are:

Advancing Quality Teaching: 

• Dr Michele Verdonck
• Associate Professor Monte Wynder
• Dr Tina Lathouras and Ms Carey Shaw (Team)

Advancing the Blended Learning Environment: 
• Dr Rebecca Donkin
• Ms Terri Downer
• Ms Irene Visser
• Dr Uwe Terton
• Dr Lisa Chandler and Mr Alistair Ward (Team)

Advancing the Student Experience: 
• Dr Kate Mulgrew 
• Ms Sam Edwards
• Occupational Therapy Team
• The Student Success Team

USC Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Birgit Lohmann presenting Dr Michele Verdonck with her award.

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