Teaching honours for ANU academics

24 September 2015

What makes for a good teacher is having a supportive environment where teaching is appreciated.

Three ANU academics have been named among Australia's best teachers, winning prestigious Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning.

Dr Tony Foley from the ANU College of Law, and the team of Dr John Debs and Associate Professor Nick Robins from ANU College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, were officially recognised at a ceremony at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young AO said the awards were a magnificent achievement and a demonstration of the University's commitment to delivering a world-class education.

"On behalf of the University, I congratulate Tony, John and Nick for their latest honours and for their outstanding work as great ANU teachers," Professor Young said.

Dr Foley said he was delighted with his award and he thanked his colleagues at the ANU College of Law for their support for good teaching.

"I think what makes for a good teacher is having a supportive environment where teaching is appreciated, and that happens in spades in my College - they are so supportive of teaching," he said.

"I have had an enormous amount of support in my College, and from my law colleagues, and in the development of the clinics I teach. These clinics couldn't run without the generous input of a lot of people in the College.

"I was delighted to be recognised and I am delighted with the enthusiasm teaching is getting both in my College and throughout the University in what is, after all, a research-intensive University."

Dr Debs and Associate Professor Robins believe their approach, to teach students to think like physicists, helped them win their award.

"Both Nick and I can see first-hand that our approach to teaching inspires and motivates students to learn - in a subject they often found difficult, confusing and even irrelevant," Dr Debs said.

 "The sheer joy we get from the feedback our students give us, and the knowledge that we have changed these people in a way they will take forward in their degree and professional life is enough motivation for a lifetime of teaching.

"This is especially true teaching first-year students. Very few people can say they have the privilege of shaping the minds and skills of hundreds of people every year."

The awards are further recognition for Dr Foley, Dr Debs and Associate Professor Robins, who all received Citations for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning in the 2014 ANU Vice-Chancellor's Awards for Excellence in Education.