Shining a light on Engineering’s teachers
Alison Jones from Chemical Engineering and Inma Tomeo-Reyes from Electrical Engineering & Telecommunications were selected by our students to receive the 2019 Students' Choice Teaching Award.
Both Alison and Inma were nominated by multiple students and selected by the student judges based on the compelling descriptions of what makes them wonderful teachers. In particular, the judges looked for evidence that the nominees had changed the students' attitude, behaviour or worldview through their teaching.
In Alison's case, a common theme was her use of storytelling in the classroom, which the students said helped them to remember the concepts and anchor them to something in real life.
Adelaide Spicer, who was one of the student nominators, said "Alison uniquely brings warmth, excitement, and support to courses that otherwise are dry and challenging. I have never had a lecturer who makes me laugh and help me genuinely enjoy the content. What sets her apart is she always looks to present information in multiple formats; verbal, visual, and even touch by bringing in samples of what we're learning about. As a visual learner, I have often struggled in content-heavy subjects in Engineering, but in Alison's classes, I've been able to push myself to new levels of understanding."
One of the key factors in the student judges' decision was Adelaide's recognition of how having Alison as a teacher has changed her perception of herself:
"Since having her as a lecturer I've become more confident in my value as a person and in my skills to work as a food scientist. She has definitely been the most memorable and instrumental person in my education at UNSW," said Adelaide.
Alison says that the foundation of her teaching practice is her memories of what it was like being a student herself.
Since having her as a lecturer, I've become more confident in my value as a person and in my skills to work as a food scientist.
Inma's nominations universally talked about her commitment to her students' learning and how the students felt that she was there to help them succeed.
Adelina Pang, who was one of the nominators, said "She is fantastic at explanations, and includes many examples, rather than just reading through chunks of text. Inma always makes sure the audience understands and clarifies the content if there is any confusion. She doesn't just repeat what she just said but actually expands on the explanation. Inma has definitely changed my worldview because I went into the subject worried that I'd be terrible at it, but I came out genuinely having fun. It made me actually think about changing to electrical engineering!"
Students also pointed to Inma's clear passion for the subject and teaching. One student said, "Her energy and love of the content she was teaching was contagious and helped developed a liking of the course for me: leading me to study it more and get a good grade."
Another student explained, "She inspired me to work hard, and I mirrored her enthusiasm when studying for the finals. She fostered a friendly and open learning environment. Everyone felt included, and no one felt left behind."
Inma emphasises that her teaching philosophy is first and foremost about the students, and how she can support them.
Both winners were nominated for courses that they redesigned in the 2018 Engineering Course Design Institute, which they say was instrumental in the success of their courses this year.