Dr Cathy GorriePlease tell us a little about what your award was given for…

For embedding learning activities in the Biomedical science course that require students to think independently, use their initiative and to be creative. Science students are often expected to learn loads of content but are not given as much opportunity to be creative. I tried to add activities throughout the course that meant students had to think a little outside the box, and where they can contribute and demonstrate their independent thought processes. Some of these occurred in lectures, some in practical classes and sometimes as voluntary activities.

What’s something new you are hoping to try or explore in learning and teaching in 2019?

I am offering undergraduate students the opportunity to assist with the review and rejuvenation of learning materials for their peers. Students bring their own unique perspective as to how and what content is appropriate at each level of a course. I’ve learnt to trust their instincts.

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

1. If students are provided with sufficient guidelines, clear expectations and the necessary tools, they are capable of meeting any challenge.

2. Pre-empt the FAQs.

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

Let the students do the talking. I love the buzz of an active lecture or practical class. Lots of small activities, show of hands, move around, consensus answers.

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

Comments that I have received from individual students when they have changed their opinion about the subject and come to love it. Or the moment when they first ‘get it” and become exciting about learning more.

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

Balancing student, university and industry expectations in the current higher education environment.

Dr Cathy Gorrie wearing a lab coat and using a microscope
Image by Filip Stempien.

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

Absolutely. In my area there is an increase in the use and capability of digital imaging technologies. This will change the way that the industry operates, change the needs of our graduates and change the way we teach the discipline. We are in the midst of a transition in teaching practices that are being strongly debated at universities and medical schools world-wide.

Feature image by Ousa Chea.


Cathy, along with a number of other UTS staff, will be formally acknowledged at the upcoming Vice-Chancellor’s Learning and Teaching Award Ceremony – an evening to celebrate the many ways academic and support staff are creating engaging learning experiences for our students. All are welcome to attend.

2019 Vice-Chancellor’s Learning and Teaching Award Ceremony | 25 March

See a full list of 2018 Learning and Teaching Award and Citation winners.

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