UNSW academic wins award for teaching excellence

Associate Professor Jayashri Ravishankar has transformed teaching practices for large engineering classes, improving attendance, academic results and student employment.

Associate Professor Jayashri Ravishankar

UNSW Engineering A/Prof. Jayashri Ravishankar has been awarded a Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, as part of the 2019 Australian Awards for University Teaching (AAUT).

An expert in energy systems, A/Prof. Ravishankar has been recognised as being among Australia's most exceptional university teachers, having made an outstanding contribution to student learning through her dedication to quality teaching.

She has been credited with developing innovative online and face-to-face learning strategies and promoting an inclusive classroom in large electrical engineering courses. These have led to improvements across a range of student satisfaction and success measures. Her methods have been adopted by engineering educators nationally, as well at universities in India and the United States.

“I teach electrical engineering classes of over 200 students, and I felt as though I needed to do more to motivate and inspire these groups to develop a deep understanding of the subject matter. I also wanted to improve university-industry partnerships, so I based my curriculum design on input from practising electrical power engineers and invited them to do guest lectures,” A/Prof. Ravishankar said.

“It was difficult to find times when guest lecturers were available for classes, so I ended up having them video their lectures. This also allowed me to incorporate best practice in technology-enhanced learning, by introducing in-class discussions and assessments based on the industry-focused videos,” she said.

A/Prof. Ravishankar found her approach improved student learning and in-class activities significantly. She was able to create “flipped mode teaching” for large, diverse groups of students, introduce team-based learning and employ students to mentor their classmates for joint coursework.

As a result, more students came to class and their grades improved, followed by an increase in demand for the courses in electrical power engineering aligned to A/Prof. Ravishankar’s teaching and research.

UNSW Engineering’s Deputy Dean (Education) Professor Maurice Pagnucco said A/Prof. Ravishankar is an outstanding and inspiring leader in quality engineering education.

“A/Prof. Ravishankar has pioneered active learning in the Faculty, introducing elements like flipped teaching and peer learning into her courses,” Professor Pagnucco said.

“Improving the employability of graduates has also been a major focus of hers, which she has managed to do through close industry engagement. She is an inspiration and thought leader to her colleagues and to her students and I congratulate her for receiving this coveted award.”

A/Prof. Ravishankar said she is proud to have received the AAUT award.

“I feel honoured for the recognition. I also feel very positive being able to achieve everything I have in 10 years at UNSW. I still have a lot of work to do but I am happy to know that I’ve come so far, as an immigrant and as a woman,” she said.

A/Prof. Ravishankar was to receive her award at a ceremony in Sydney this week, however the event was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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