Dr Leanne Kenway, from the School of Medical Science in Griffith Health is the winner of a 2019 Excellence in Teaching – Group Excellence in Teaching Award.

Leanne is also the 2019 Vice Chancellor’s Griffith University Teacher of the Year! Congratulations, Leanne, on this well deserved achievement. 🙂

What motivates and inspires you in your teaching?  

Witnessing student growth and helping my students develop a love of learning inspires me to continue my own development as a teacher. I am especially motivated when students develop a newfound passion for studying anatomy and a curiosity to know more about careers in Health!  

What have been the most effective pedagogical approaches you’ve implemented in your courses?  

I’ve found through role-modelling enthusiasm, active participation and by delivering authentic learning experiences, students become motivated to be better learners. My clinical experience as a physiotherapist enables me to offer unique insights during a student’s initial exposure to Anatomy and Physiology in their Foundation Health Year. I provide them with real world examples gathered from my therapist-patient experiences, and I authenticate their learning with familiar contexts by using imagery to physically mimic motor changes occurring with various dysfunctions. This helps students deepen their learning by constructing meaning around knowledge; emphasising the importance, relevance, and integration of theory and knowledge with professional practice. 

Regular testing and practice quizzes help students reflect on their knowledge, and this strategy is one of my most successful pedagogical approaches. My courses are offered in mixed mode, intensively, allowing students the flexibility of engaging with pre-recorded mini lectures online at their own pace before attending tutorials, leaving more time for active learning in the tutorial space. Tutorials are structured around discussion of workbook questions, clarifying threshold concepts, and encouraging students to work collaboratively in small groups during learning activities such as ‘Skeletal Scrabble’ which focusses on anatomical terminology. Weekly in-class ‘Who Am I? quizzes are formative and low stakes and help consolidate learning and develop critical thinking. In addition, online quizzes and a 3D digital cadaver learning tool to supplement anatomy laboratory sessions provide extra revision and help increase student engagement. 

What kinds of strategies and approaches do you find inspire and motivate your students to learn, even if they are facing challenges?  

Be approachable, be authentic, and be active

Excellent communication is key to a successful transition into the first year of University, so I maintain regular and frequent contact with students via multiple platforms including weekly email reminders with a checklist of activities, course Facebook group updates, and course site announcements. Early establishment of clear expectations of both my students and me, along with prompt meaningful feedback, help to promote successful student outcomes. I enjoy forming a connection with my students – learning their names and backgrounds lets them know I am invested in their learning as individuals. This has translated into increased intrinsic motivation and engagement with course material, helping optimise their learning experience. 

Structure and guidance help build student confidence and independence in their learning. I aim to be responsive to the atmosphere of a given class and supportive of the unique personalities in our active learning environment; particularly encouraging those who might not have had the confidence to participate and collaborate in the past. As ~50% of my regular cohort are repeating students, levels of motivation, attention, focus and engagement may vary considerably from the high achievers or commencing students, needing consideration when designing a mixture of interesting learning activities to cater for diverse learning needs. Activities are purposeful and structured, yet varied, in order to maintain attention and maximise engagement – an essential consideration for a cohort containing a large proportion of repeating students at risk of non-continuation. Finding the right balance between achievable yet challenging activities can be quite difficult when teaching a diverse cohort. However, I feel the full value of any learning activity is only realised when the educator is as engaged and active in the learning process as the student, and there is a fine art to facilitating the learning process and keeping students engaged without leaving them feeling pressured.  

How has technology supported the creation of an active learning environment in your large first year courses?  

With increasing student enrolments and course offerings, anatomy laboratory space is at a premium, and students often have little opportunity for revision of cadaveric material after their allocated laboratory sessions. We have recently developed 3D digital cadavers of the Nervous System to supplement our laboratory sessions in the anatomy facility, providing students with a sustainable online tool for self-directed revision, enhancing student learning and engagement in a blended learning environment. The online E-tool includes 2D images, quiz questions and 3D rotating brains created from the human cadavers used during laboratory sessions and again during their laboratory assessment, so that online revision material reflects the human cadaveric material seen in class. 

What is something new you are looking forward to trying in your learning and teaching in 2020?  

I am currently working with technical staff from the School of Anatomy and the Health Design team to develop and launch an online anatomy laboratory induction process using Echo360ALP. It is hoped this will streamline the student experience, improve tracking of student engagement and achievement, as well as increase sustainability through reducing overall paper usage.  

In addition, I am planning to build a database of ultrasound images that can be included in the curriculum for first year undergraduate health students. This will allow us to not only study anatomy using traditional methods such as engaging with cadaveric specimens, models, textbooks and online images, but also living human anatomy in real time.  

There are so many rapidly developing digital platforms now available, with varying capabilities and functionalities, it can be overwhelming at first: Echo360ALP for delivery of class quizzes, Microsoft Sway for online class activities, re-recording mini lectures using the CYO studios, or GUAVR – so many options! I am enjoying the process of exploring the different options and finding what is the right fit for my purpose! 

What advice do you have for educators seeking recognition for their teaching practice?  

Gather your evidence, build your story and build your community. Most importantly, recognise and celebrate the success of others along the way – we have some truly inspirational educators and students! 

Be proactive evaluating your teaching practices through multiple lenses over time: student, peer and self-evaluation. Listen to advice offered from mentors and other inspiring teachers – and learn from it. Be critical of your own work, accept constructive criticism from others and act on it. Attend professional development workshops in Learning and Teaching and build your support networks.  

Recognise your own positive contributions and offer mentorship to others. Participate in the PETAL program as a Learning and Teaching Observer, offering peer-review to like-minded reflective academics, whilst simultaneously benefitting from observing innovation in action. Increase your scholarly activities and contribute actively to Communities of Practice in Learning and Teaching, then seek internal and external recognition through Griffith Learning and Teaching Academy and Higher Education Academy Fellowships, respectively.  

Go for it!