The award recipients, Kristine Aquino, Cornelia Betzler and Dr Ann El Khoury
From left to right: Dr Kristine Aquino, Cornelia Betzler and Dr Ann El Khoury.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Learning and Teaching Awards and Citations acknowledge and celebrate the many ways that teaching and professional staff at UTS are creating the best possible learning experiences and outcomes for our students. We chatted with 2019 Team Teaching Award winners Dr Kristine Aquino, Cornelia Betzler and Dr Ann El Khoury to learn about their collaborative approach in developing the Global Studies Internship model.

Please tell us a little about what your Team Teaching Award was given for

Kristine: Our Team Teaching Award recognises our work in the Bachelor of Global Studies internship program. Over the last three years, through collaborating our expertise as academics and professional staff, we have worked to enhance the experience of internships for Global Studies students who are required to complete an internship in Global Work Project, one of the degree’s capstone subjects. Ann and I, in the subject coordinator role, focus on strengthening the links between curriculum, learning outcomes and workplace skills development to help guide students in their internship search and enhance their work experience. Cornelia, as FASS’ Work Integrated Learning Coordinator, applies her expertise in administrative systems and UTS policy and strategic direction on internships and work integrated learning to ensure we are adopting best practice. We also work together to support students as much as possible during the internship search and as they complete their placements.

Cornelia: As a team we have worked on turning the internship experience for the students into a more comprehensive, connected and equitable journey by developing together preparation activities including a Global Studies Internship Preparation Workshop that features an Employer-Alumni panel to share insights on the internship experience and what employers look for in interns and graduates. We have also designed tool-kits and Learning Plan templates for students and employers to guide the internship experience and continue to improve administrative and communication systems between the student, employer and the university. Key has also been fostering industry and community partnerships that support the practical application of themes explored by Global Studies students in their degree.

What’s something new you are hoping to try or explore in learning and teaching in 2020?

Cornelia: Since last year I have been the Work Integrated Learning Coordinator for FASS and after having applied the Global Studies Internships model to other course-related internship programs in the faculty, I am now hoping to work more closely with students, partner organisations and UTS Careers to keep improving our understanding of what type of in-class preparation modules can help students to be more comprehensively prepared for their internship experience. By experience I don’t only mean the actual internship, but the process of self-reflection, determining where a student wants to be later on, how to approach the search for internships and how the actual experience can be used for a student’s professional future. For this I am particularly interested in tapping into specific professional sectors to be able to identify what it needs for students to navigate those sectors. 

Kristine and I will be attending the biannual Work Integrated Learning Conference by the Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) in October: Beyond 2020: Creating the Future with WIL. The conference will certainly provide us with a lot of new inspiration on how to keep re-designing our internship/WIL programs

Kristine: I’m hoping to try UTS’ new collaborative learning spaces and am eager to see how this setting and its technologies shape group work in class. As Cornelia and I continue to work on the Global Studies internship program, I’m also hoping we might be able to start to track longer term impacts of our initiatives.

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

Ann: Encouraging interpersonal interaction seems key, and the quality of group dynamics often has surprising results in assessments – groups that coalesce nicely can do well, but so can ones that have had issues! I try to let them have space and time to get to know one another, particularly at first year. The more they know about one another personally, the more they can “skills audit” and play to their strengths after canvassing different talents and personalities. UTS places a strong emphasis upon collaborative group work, and I think this is wise given they will encounter a whole range of group dynamics in their student life and career trajectories.

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

Ann: My most memorable learning and teaching moment occurred in 2019 throughout Global Work Project’s sister capstone subject Global Problem Solving, and relates to how incorporating self-determining elements can empower students to think and act more autonomously and confidently. In many ways Global Problem Solving lays the groundwork for Global Work Project; we hold a series of three workshops, including a Careers workshop and an active speaker program of employers, alumni and internship providers in the Autumn session prior, to ready students for their internship experience in the Spring session offering of Global Work Project. We encourage students to start to think about not just their internship but also how they apply and present their work interests and skills generally. I think giving them insights into the employment market, and what various organisations value and the very diverse career trajectories possible, is a very useful experience. By incorporating practical, future-looking and self-determining elements into these subjects, I think students felt more empowered to grasp the nettle of starting to pivot towards their future work, and translate the skills and knowledge they’d gained throughout their Global Studies degrees into a valuable portfolio they can use post-UTS.

Cornelia: I am not in a teaching position, but seeing students come out of the Global Studies Internship Preparation Workshop looking and sounding elated, engaged and inspired was a very rewarding and affirmative moment in my role as the Project Officer for the program. Kristine and I had developed the workshop to engage the students more proactively in the process of reflecting on their ‘professional identity’, on their aspirations for their internships and in preparing for the internship search.

Kristine: When students share reflections of their internship experience I sense the maturity they develop – whether they had a positive or negative experience, they almost always say it’s a big learning experience and they often say that their preconceptions of the world around them are transformed.

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

Cornelia: In the specific WIL/internships context I would say that as WIL and internships are now buzz themes for most degrees and therefore a lot of students are out there competing for opportunities with host organisations, it is important to keep working on guidelines and frameworks for internship programs making sure the experience remains equitable and ethical for both students and host organisations.

Watch the L&T Awards ceremony livestream

You can watch Kristine, Cornelia and Ann receive their Team Teaching Award at the 2019 Vice-Chancellor’s Learning and Teaching Awards in the video below.

See the full list of Award and Citation recipients here

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