National awards for remarkable USC teachers


Dr Anita Hamilton (left) and Dr Vikki Schaffer

Two USC academics who specialise in occupational therapy and tourism respectively have earned national recognition for their work in enhancing student learning.

Dr Anita Hamilton and Dr Vikki Schaffer received Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning from the Australian Awards for University Teaching, an awards scheme administered by industry body Universities Australia.

USC Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Tim Wess said the awards recognised the academics’ important work in ensuring students get the best out of their time at university.

“We are proud, but not at all surprised, to see two of our exceptional teaching staff have been recognised in this way,” Professor Wess said.

“Awards like this show what we are doing here at USC, and the way we engage students on their learning journey, is resonating at a national level.”

Dr Hamilton, Deputy Head of USC’s School of Health and Sport Sciences, has long been a champion for the adoption of digital technologies in occupational therapy education.

“Digital literacy has an important link with knowledge creation and networking, as well as the technology that is applied in practice, from telehealth services to computerised homes,” she said.

“I think initially a lot of students see themselves as a ‘people’ person and are reluctant to use technology as an interface, but when they see the power of technology and use it as part of the therapeutic relationship, they can see that tech isn’t a barrier, it actually enhances what we have to offer.”

Dr Hamilton also received a national award for advancing the blended learning environment in 2013, and team awards for advancing the student experience in 2015, quality teaching in 2017, and for best blended learning model in 2019. She was also named a Higher Education Academy Senior Fellow in 2019.

Dr Schaffer, a Senior Lecturer in Tourism, Leisure and Event Management, strongly believes that “it takes a village to graduate a student” and that industry involvement plays a crucial role in university study success.

“With projects relevant to industry, students propose technology and innovation-based solutions,” Dr Schaffer said.

“Facilitating meaningful engagement between students and the regional tourism industry supports learning, offers real projects that can be added to their CVs and helps build networks for career development.”

Dr Schaffer has previously won national awards for advancing quality teaching in 2017 and advancing the student experience in 2018 and was named a Higher Education Academy Senior Fellow in 2019.

In the most recent Quality Indicators for Teaching and Learning report in 2018, USC ranked first of Queensland’s public universities across four key benchmarks: student support, teaching quality, skills development and overall quality of educational experience.

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