University of Sydney celebrating outstanding contributions to student learning

University of Sydney Associate Professor Jaime Gongora (Faculty of Veterinary Science), and Associate Professor Alyson Simpson (Faculty of Education and Social Work) have received 2015 Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning.

Jaime was recognised for innovatively embedding cultural competence into the veterinary curriculum and promoting an environment that celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Alyson was recognised for her passionate commitment to dialogic pedagogy that inspires students to become literacy educators who teach critically and creatively with children’s literature.

University of Sydney Veterinary School
Associate Professor Alyson Simpson (Faculty of Education and Social Work) & Associate Professor Jaime Gongora (Photo credit: University of Sydney)

“I want learners to be imaginative in their thinking and have found over the years that children’s literature is a great way to encourage that,” said Alyson after the award ceremony.

“The OLT recognition is very important to me, as the risk is high of teachers avoiding creative ways of teaching due to an emphasis on reductionist models of learning and narrow measures of achievement. This award recognises the importance of helping educators learn to teach through experiences that encourage rich engagement with literary text so that they will become resilient innovators in a time of standardised testing.”

The citations are awarded by the federal government’s Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) to people who have made a significant contribution to the quality of student learning in a specific area of responsibility over a sustained period.

Jaime’s OLT recognition comes hot on the heels of receiving the inaugural Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding and Innovative Contributions to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy earlier this year.

“The citation is an important external recognition of the work I have been doing in the faculty since 2012 and encourages me and other people who have contributed to continue working in this area,” he said.

“I intend to continue embedding and implementing cultural competence and themes on Indigenous knowledge systems into the faculty’s programs,” added Jaime, one of many staff across the university who have been working to further the university’s Wingara Mura – Bunga Barrabugu strategy.

Jaime called for more support and infrastructure to sustain the 20 Indigenous initiatives underway in the Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science.

“I want this to become everybody’s business and business as usual, and this would also allow me to catch up with my crocodile and platypus genomic research.”

Alyson’s next priorities for her teaching include integrating the principles of dialogic teaching into other areas of study and into other platforms of learning.

“My goal is to encourage students to work towards autonomous professionalism in a supportive and challenging context,” she said. “For example, employing mobile digital technologies to create communities of learners interacting across time and place could enhance professional experience placements.”


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