Denise Hope and Associate Professor Gary Grant, from the School of Pharmacy and Pharmacology in the Griffith Health are the winners of a 2019 Excellence in Teaching – Group Active Learning Award.

What motivates and inspires you in your teaching? 

We are inspired by our students and our profession, aiming to sculpt strong student performance outcomes that translate to exemplary professional practice. We are driven toward excellence by a shared passion and commitment to deliver transformative practice in our pharmacy graduates. 

How have teaching practices in your discipline changed with the introduction of new technologies, and how has technology changed the way you interact and engage with your students? 

Technologies have enhanced not only the way we teach but also the way our graduates practice in the contemporary digitised health care realm. We embrace innovative and technology enhanced pedagogies, including gamification and simulation of varying ranges of fidelity. Our goals are to enhance students’ digital fluency, to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship through explorative and problem-based learning. 

How do the active and authentic learning experiences in your courses prepare students for their future careers? 

We conduct an extended gamified simulation as a capstone activity, in which student teams competitively run their own pharmacies for three weeks. This authentic experience simulates real-world practice and engages students in the role and responsibilities of the health professional. The simulation enhances student maturation, confidence and competence, preparing them well for intern and professional pharmacist practice. 

What have you learnt throughout your academic career about creating an engaging learning experience for students, and what have you learnt from experimenting with new approaches that didn’t quite work out? 

We have learned that the more authenticity we can build into activities, the richer the students’ learning experience and the more rewarding the outcomes for both participants and academic staff.  

Given it isn’t always easy to innovate within a learning and teaching context, what advice do you have for colleagues looking to try something new in their teaching? 

Look to the innovations being conducted in your profession outside of your current context. Inspiration for our gamified simulation was derived from our pharmacy education colleagues in the Netherlands, with whom we have had a mutual exchange of experiences and ideas. 

What is something new you are looking forward to trying in your learning and teaching practice over the next year or so? 

We intend to build individualised student practice portfolios into the gamified simulation and implement the use of telepresence robotic assessment for some of the assessment tasks within the game. We aim to further extend our use of the Microsoft 365 applications, e.g. Teams, Sway, OneNote, inside our teaching to facilitate accessible and flexible learning, further enhancing the digital capabilities of students. 

What advice do you have for educators looking to enhance their teaching practice? 

Attend conferences, consult the literature, commit to ongoing professional development, participate in scholarly communities of practice, exchange ideas with colleagues and be open to new approaches.