The UTS Midwifery team are pictured above, from left to right: Rosemarie Hogan, Christine Catling, Nicki Watts, Amy Monk, Allison Cummins, and Caroline Homer. Photo credit: Patrick Abela.

Photo credit: Anna Zhu.
Photo credit: Anna Zhu.

Q. Please tell us a little about what you won the award for…

Over the last five years, the midwifery team have made a very strong contribution to innovations in learning and teaching in line with the UTS Model of Learning and learning.futures.

We work really well together — we have shared values and goals, and a commitment to educating great midwives to provide the best possible care to women, so that childbirth is enriching and life enhancing! We are all committed to ensuring midwifery students have the best learning experiences and graduate as midwives able to provide safe quality care.

Q. What’s something new you are hoping to try or explore in learning and teaching in 2017?

We are starting our new recently re-accredited curricula in 2017 which is very exciting. These were accredited by our external accrediting authority in 2016. This means some new subjects and some new ways of learning and teaching in line with learning.futures and the flipped learning approaches.

We are also committed to incorporating the “Respect; Engagement and sharing; Moving forward” (REM) framework, which is a UTS-wide collaborative framework for building Indigenous Cultural Competency. There are well documented health disparities between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous mothers and babies. Our new programs ensure the incorporation of assessment items to enable students to respect, engage and move forward, and by applying these we hope to contribute towards addressing some of these health disparities and improving outcomes for women and babies.

Photo credit: Anna Zhu.
Photo credit: Anna Zhu.

We are also transforming the paper-based anatomy and physiology workbooks into interactive online modules to be completed by the students every week to slowly build their knowledge. This again fits with learning.futures and the importance of early formative feedback and ongoing learning.

Q. What’s one trick or tip you wish you’d known when you first started out in university teaching?

Knowing about the sheer brilliance of the IML team and the library staff is a tip for all academics. At UTS we are also fortunate to have amazing technical officers and assistants and learning technologists who assist with developing resources and ways of engaging with students and ensuring that student’s learning is grounded in the real world of practice. We also have access to a fabulous technical team in our Simulation Centre who again bring a wealth of support and advice to ensure student’s get the best learning experience. We think that using all the resources available is the best tip we could pass on to others.

Q. What’s your approach to keeping students active and engaged in a large group situation?

Thinking one step ahead of them is probably the best approach to keeping students active and engaged! This means being really well prepared, knowing your content and how to use the wide range of resources and anticipating the issues as or even before they arise. It is also important to be able to think quickly on your feet, be flexible and creative and not be afraid to challenge your own assumptions and the assumptions of the students.

We use a lot of interactive workshops to build engagement and learning in teams. One example is a version of ‘speed dating’ where students sit in pairs, discuss a short video clip, podcast (2-3 mins) or an article that has been part of pre-reading. After 2 minutes of discussion a bell rings and one of the pair moves to the next person. In this speed discussion group, students get to be challenged and engaged and also meet with other students they may not have met before.

Photo credit: Anna Zhu.
Photo credit: Anna Zhu.

Q. What’s been your most memorable learning and teaching moment – as a teacher, or as a student?

We love graduation and watching all those bright shiny new midwives walk across the stage after fulfilling their dreams to become a midwife is always memorable. We know that each of those new midwives is going out in the world to make a difference to a woman and her family’s life when they are pregnant and give birth. As a team, we are also really committed to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women become midwives. So, watching these women cross the stage at graduation with their UTS gown and hat on and wearing the Aboriginal sash is a very memorable moment and makes everything we do worthwhile.

We have also had the experience of seeing one of our midwifery students present at a major interdisciplinary conference or even a state or national conference. It is always memorable to see them present as articulate, confident, outstanding midwifery students and show what well supported and appropriately challenged students can achieve. We are always very proud of the UTS midwifery students at these conferences.

Q. What’s the most challenging aspect of teaching in universities today?

One of the most challenging aspects is keeping current with the new technologies available and also with the way the new generations are using things like social media.

We are often challenged working out how GenY’s or millennials think (or whatever Gen we are up to) and what would be engaging for them. We want to engage and challenge them to effectively learn but this requires creativity and imagination and innovation and resourcefulness when we are not from their generation. We are always learning too — especially to keep up with the students!

Q. Do you think teaching practices in your discipline area have changed a lot with the introduction of new technologies?

The use of advanced simulation manikins and other resources within the simulation labs have changed the way we teach over the years. The introduction of new technologies in simulation have enhanced our ability to provide a more ‘real-life’ situation so that students can practise their skills (and safely make mistakes!) before going out into the clinical environment

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