This is how I teach

This month we spoke to Mary Gonzalez, Education Specialist and Senior Lecturer in Petroleum Engineering for the Faculty of SET. She serves as a member of the Adelaide Education Academy and the Adelaide College of Reviewers.

Mary's dedication to teaching has been recognised with the prestigious Society of Petroleum Engineers’ 2023 Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty for South Asia and the Pacific Region. This award celebrates her superior teaching, significant contributions to the petroleum engineering profession, and her effectiveness in advising and guiding students. 

Mary Gonzalez

How would you describe your approach to teaching/your teaching philosophy?
As an Education Specialist, I am driven to implement modern teaching techniques that enhance student engagement and learning. My ability to turn imaginative ideas into reality has led to innovative approaches, benefiting my students and their overall learning experience. For instance, I introduced the 'Flipped Classroom' model in my courses. Students review pre-recorded video lectures and reading materials before class, allowing us to focus on interactive discussions, problem-solving exercises, and hands-on projects during our in-person sessions. This approach has resulted in better-prepared and more engaged students with a deeper understanding of practical applications.

Moreover, I am dedicated to reflective learning, actively engaging in peer review sessions with colleagues. Their feedback provides fresh insights, enabling continuous improvement in my teaching methods which creates an inclusive and supportive classroom environment.

These teaching practices have received high praise from both students and colleagues. My students report increased motivation, higher levels of participation, and a better grasp of complex concepts. I firmly believe in sharing successful strategies to foster collaboration and excellence within our University. Ultimately, my goal is to transform traditional teaching into an exciting and impactful learning journey for students pursuing petroleum engineering.

What do you like most about teaching in your discipline?

I am a passionate Petroleum Engineer and Educator, and it is a privilege for me to share my technical expertise and industry experience with my students. I find great joy in mentoring, guiding, and providing professional advice regarding their industry career pathways. My ultimate goal is to motivate young minds to join our quest for energy sustainability, environmental protection, and social responsibility, thereby contributing to an improved quality of life for both current and future generations.

How does your teaching help prepare students for their future?

I focus on helping my students develop essential transferrable skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, collaborative work, and professionalism, enabling them to apply their knowledge effectively

To make learning more practical and relevant, I incorporate real-world examples into my teaching through industry guest lectures, field case studies, and sharing my own industry experience. This approach allows students to connect theoretical knowledge learned in class to real-life scenarios.Mary Gonzalez

Additionally, when introducing more challenging topics, I provide appropriate background information and use associations to facilitate a clearer understanding. My primary objectives are to enhance their learning experience, develop desirable graduate attributes, and prepare them to confront future career challenges, as responsible members and leaders in their communities.

What is your favourite way to use technology to enhance learning? 
Team-based learning (TBL) is one of my favourite methods to enhance learning. It fosters essential skills like complex problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and time management through group-based activities. TBL shifts the focus from instructor-led teaching to active learning on the students' part. Both individual and team accountability are ensured through the Readiness Assurance Process, which includes individual and team readiness assurance tests (IRAT and TRAT). The IRAT holds students accountable for completing pre-class work, ensuring they come prepared. The TRAT and application group exercises further reinforce learning, fostering enriching class discussions and healthy competition. I use Immediate Feedback Assessment Technique (IF-AT) scratch-off cards for the TRAT, which students enjoy and find engaging.

Another effective tool I use is Echo360 Interactive Polling. This technology helps to promote an inclusive classroom and enhances student engagement. By incorporating polls during lectures, I can maintain learners' attention and encourage active participation. Additionally, the polling system provides real-time feedback, enabling me to gauge student comprehension and identify those who may need additional support. It also helps me determine when the class is ready for new challenges, fostering a dynamic and interactive learning environment.

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