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Teaching Innovators Recognised in National Awards

Murdoch University has been recognised with two prestigious citations in the 2021 Australian Awards for University Teaching.

Announced yesterday afternoon, Professor Cassandra Berry and Murdoch’s SimLabTM Team were each awarded a Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning in recognition of their innovation and dedication to quality teaching.

As an immunologist and researcher, Professor Berry has been in high demand during the COVID pandemic, but it was her commitment and willingness to explore imaginative ways to bring science to life that impressed the judges who said she was “clearly a dedicated teacher with an eye for introducing and developing innovative approaches”.

Professor Berry said winning the award brought her great joy.

“It encourages me to continue doing what I love - to raise awareness and educate hearts in teaching biomedical sciences,” she said

“It is a very rewarding career to be involved in dynamic learning with so many amazing undergraduate students.

“It is also a fantastic accolade for our University and highlights the supportive learning environments that can be created with a little imagination, even during these COVID times.”


Deputy Vice Chancellor Education and Equity Professor Kylie Readman applauded Professor Berry’s commitment to testing and exploring imaginative approaches to teaching, and inspiring and motivating her students with hands on, collaborative learning.

“Her pedagogy has focused on encouraging divergent thinking amongst her students as they take a discovery-based approach to learning science,” she said.

Innovation is also what led to the team that runs Murdoch’s SimLabTM receiving a citation.

Education Simulation Lead and SimLabTM Clinical Practitioner Ann-Marie Gresele said the program was developed in response to a call to improve Australian initial teacher education and graduate teacher readiness.

The program comprises a series of virtual experiences to better prepare pre-service teachers with the practical skills needed for the classroom and involves interactors performing through the avatars in real time so the responses are authentic and relevant to each unique situation presented.

“Through SimLabTM, preservice teachers are able to interact with a range of student and adult avatars in a range of situations that are challenging in real life,” Ms Gresele said.

“This citation has acknowledged nationally the benefits of SimLabTM delivering a practical, impactful, and sustainable solution to the challenges of the modern classroom.”

Professor Readman said the SimLabTM technology at Murdoch was sector leading.

“It is an example of an outstanding level of collaboration and partnership between academic and professional staff to achieve excellent outcomes for students,” she said.

Professor Readman said the awards represented the highest level of national recognition for learning, teaching and support of students in the country.

“Being recognised in this way is a significant achievement for both Professor Berry and the entire SimLabTM team,” she said.

“Quality teaching and engaging curriculum make a big difference in students’ learning experiences as both of these citation winners have demonstrated.”

Posted on:

24 Feb 2022

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