Samantha Carruthers from Learning Futures, along with Dr Sven Venema from the School of Information and Communication Technology, received a 2018 Griffith Learning and Teaching Citation for the “Connecting Through Feedback” school-wide program that facilitates regular, collegial and scholarly conversations about course related data giving opportunities for program level approaches to curriculum design and innovation.

We asked Sam to tell us a bit more about her practice and strategies for leading change in a complex learning and teaching environment.

Dr Sven Venema and Samantha Carruthers receive a 2018 Group Learning and Teaching Citation certificate from Professor Andrew Smith



What motivates and inspires you in your teaching?

Well it’s students of course! I’m inspired by the potential to teach in a way that enables learners to not only develop their understanding of the world but also for them to change mine.

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?

I’ve discovered that we need to consider different ways to engage people in transformative learning. I consider, how do I engage people in learning that connects them with their values and beliefs about the world?  I love the potential that new technology offers.

What are your key strategies for leading change in a complex learning and teaching environment?

Ha ha that’s an easy question! No, not really… My strategy has been to take an action research approach – creating opportunities to learn and create change together. In my experience though, this approach doesn’t work in all contexts. You need to use strategies that suit your environment.

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?

What I have learnt from experimenting with new approaches in my discipline is it can be an emotive process, for myself and the learners. We are vulnerable when we try something new. Acknowledging that vulnerability is important for my own resilience and it also models to the learners that it’s okay to not be 100% perfect, all the time.

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?

Talk to other people – join a community of practice or connect with a mentor.

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

I like what David Boud talked about in his keynote presentation at Griffith’s Celebrating Teaching 2018 event. He talked about students needing to learn how to assess their own learning, rather than relying on someone else to tell them if they passed. He had some interesting ideas about implementing this.

Jude Williams and Samantha Carruthers after the David Boud session during Celebrating Teaching 2018.


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

Connect with people who share your values.