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Higher Ed Heroes

Author: Seb Kaempf and Al Stark

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In ‘HigherEd Heroes’, we talk to some of the best teachers about ‘what works’ in their university classrooms in a down-to-earth, jargon-free, and non-technical manner. Our objective is to communicate practical advice from the bottom-up to a broad range of teachers about new ideas they may want to integrate into their classrooms and to stimulate open conversations about their everyday practice. Each episode explores what excites students to learn, what keeps them coming back for lectures, and what makes teaching fun for both teachers and students. We hope that you engage in these conversations and (like us) find something in them which inspires you to make small changes that may reward you and your students in big ways.‘ Higher Ed Heroes’ is convened by The University of Queensland's Dr Seb Kaempf and Dr Al Stark and produced by Anthony Frangi. If you want to listen to the podcast, get more information, or get in touch, please visit:
35 Episodes
In this episode, Dr Seb Kaempf (usually one of our podcast co-hosts) turns interviewee to share with us how he integrates regular, 3-hour-long practical, self-experiential spaces (called ‘MediaLabs’) into his course to deepen student learning. It’s about enabling students to ‘get their hands’ dirty, to collaborate, research, discuss, and ultimately learn through practice. 
Our guest in this episode is Dr Sarel Gronum (Business School at the University of Queensland), whose Masters students get thrown into proper, several week long, consultancy projects with real world business clients. Besides the challenge of building this flagship course and how he had to fine tune his own teaching role within it, Sarel talks about the centrality of ambiguity and ‘trench warfare’ for student learning. 
In this episode, we talk to A/Prof Allison Mandrusiak (School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at The University of Queensland). Coordinating a cardiorespiratory physiotherapy course, Allie has built a model hospital to replicate real clinical practices and even lets her student play cardio karaoke. But central to Allie’s teaching are the ideas of building scaffolding and safety nets into her course that help reassure her students, reduce uncertainty, and build their confidence and competence. Tune in and listen to the tips and tricks from Allie whose teaching was recognized with a UQ excellence award last year.
In this episode, we talk to Professor Chris Reus-Smit (University of Queensland) about lecturing as a performance art, about the essence of being physical, animated, and enthusiastic in order to draw students into the learning content.
In this episode, Al and Seb talk to Dr Rebecca Olive (RMIT Australia) about how students in human movement studies learn by taking on an unfamiliar sport for six weeks. It is about experiencing the strangeness of the familiar, about self-reflection, and about the development of (self)compassion. 
In this episode, Al and Seb talk to Professor Garr Reynolds (University in Osaka) about how to design and deliver powerful presentations, how to avoid death by powerpoint, and how the best learning comes through doing. 
We have all been there: having to teach a topic which is either difficult to grasp or that we know is unpopular with students. How can make these topics accessible and bring them alive in a fun way to help students learn? Dr Suzanna Fay (The University of Queensland) faced these challenges when she first started teaching statistics and probability theory to social science students. Her solution: let her students learn by building these topics around the actor Denzel Washington. 
In this episode, Al and Seb talk to Kiri Ingram and Dr Andrew Dougall (both at UQ's School of Political Science and International Studies) about starting out as lecturers, about the nerves, the challenges, imposter syndromes, and the dos and don'ts.
In this episode, Al and Seb talk to Dr Fabiane Ramos (School of Culture and Languages & School of Education, UQ) and Dr Laura Roberts (Flinders University) about their use of weekly journal writing as a way to help students reflect about course content (and as it relates to their own lives), to build trusting relationships and to foster a nourishing learning environment.
In this episode, Associate Professor Al Stark (usually one of our podcast co-hosts) turns interviewee to share with us what he calls '20 Minute Moments': it's about stopping the lecture, exposing students to a practical, fun, interactive, but ultimately meaningful activity that allows students to learn key lessons.
In this episode, Al and Seb speak to Prof John Hattie (University of Melbourne) about the few key factors that have the biggest impact on student learning. Based on analysis of more than 300 million students from around the globe (the world’s largest evidence-based study), John Hattie identified the key factors that improve student learning. His findings are equally impressive as they are eye-opening, inviting us to rethink what we – as teachers - do in our uni classrooms.
In this episode, we talk to Dr Leigh Sperka (Lecturer UQ’s School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences) about the ‘escape box’ exercise and learning through team work. 
In this episode, we talk to Dr Karin Sellberg (The University of Queensland), who uses the production of short videos – ‘me in a minute’ – as a form of assessment. How does this exercise work and how does it foster student learning? 
In this episode, we talk to Associate Professor Phil Orchard (University of Wollongong), who has designed his courses around simulations and role plays. Why are these so central to Phil's teaching, how do they differ and how can we effectively use different formats in our classroom?
In this episode, Al and Seb talk to two experienced and excellent tutors, Dr Federica Caso and Robert Arcidiacono, about all things tutoring: how to be an effective tutor, how to guide, how to handle respond to challenging situations, and how to bring a tutorial/seminar alive. 
In the first episode in 2021, Al and Seb talk to Dr Tom Chodor (Monash University) about the ways he has experimented with and ultimately refined different techniques to ensure that students actually do the readings before rocking up for class. 
In this episode, Seb and Al discuss with Associate Professor Matt McDonald (The University of Queensland) everything simulations and role play: different ways they can be employed; how to mark them; and how they can enable students to learn if done well. 
In this episode, Al and Seb talk to Associate Professor Sarah Percy (The University of Queensland) and Professor David J Hornsby (Carleton University) about about the art of the lecture. In particular, they discuss the tricks and techniques they employ to grab and hold the attention of students in large lectures. 
In this episode, we are talking to Prof. Lydia Kavanagh (School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering, UQ) who decided to get rid of exams in her courses and who instead offers learning exercises where students collaborate on solving practical, open-ended, real-world problems.  
In this episode, we talk to Dr Kim de Rijke (Senior Lecturer in Anthropology, The University of Queensland) on how he makes his students learn through research activities that focus on the social impact of real world development projects. 
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