Teacher of the week: Tracy Worthington

Dr Tracy Worthington is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Educational Studies

I was born in North Ryde, so I’m excited that this past July my life and career brought me back full circle to here thanks to my current Postdoctoral Research Fellow position!

I graduated high school in Coffs Harbour, did my BA (hons) and Grad. Dip. Ed at UNE, and then moved to Tasmania, where I taught high school history and humanities for four years. I moved with my husband and infant son to Columbia, Missouri, in 1998. There I taught middle/junior high US history and government for 16 years as well as special education! While living and working there, I did my Masters’ degree in Teaching (Special Education), my Doctorate in Education (in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis), and my initial principal certificate. And it was at the University of Missouri that I got my first real bite of university teaching in a doctoral level course on Educational Leadership.

Generally speaking, my research interests are focused on investigating the under-served area of Middle School student achievement and post-primary school transition. At the same time, I’m also interested in the effective use of digital technology, flipped learning, and simulations and role plays, for teaching and learning in secondary history classrooms. As a Postdoctoral Research fellow at MQ, I am developing a multi-school research study to investigate student and staff perceptions of middle school success. This will entail on-site interviews, observations and survey data from selected Year 7 students in 4-6 secondary schools throughout the Sydney metro area. I am also a member of the newly formed Digital Technology Research Group in the Department of Educational Studies at MQ.

When I’m not busy working on research (and seemingly never-ending literature reviews), or doing equally never-ending yard work at my house, I enjoy sitting outside reading and listening to all the birds (esp. the kookaburras and lorikeets) with my husband, Prof. Ian Worthington (Dept. of Ancient History at MQ), son Oliver, and daughter, Rosie.

What are your main teaching commitments?

I currently teach in TEP 428 (History in the Secondary Classroom II). In this role, I seek to model effective teaching strategies and methodology to prepare MQ TEP students for the diverse and demanding world of teaching in a secondary classroom. This has included workshops on how to develop higher-level assessment tasks for students, and workshops on implementing technology such as the MQs Pedestal project, Edpuzzle, Ted-Ed, and Google Suite for Educators. I have also developed workshops on supporting literacy in history classrooms through the use of strategies such as critical reading, analysing texts, tableaus, and philosophical chair activities to engage and challenge today’s high school students in collaborative, critical, and creative student-centred learning.

What’s the biggest challenge you face as a university teacher?

That would be balancing my use of time to pursue my teaching and research interests! I love teaching the TEP students, and especially enjoy seeing how their initial grappling with content or technology gradually results in competency, if not mastery, through a combination of active learning, practice, discussion, problem-solving and a growing sense of confidence in themselves as practicing teachers. However, I also see the research value of investigating middle school students’ perceptions of their learning, and exploring how student voice may impact outcomes for today’s students, schools, and communities.

What has helped you improve your teaching most and why?

Definitely wonderful mentors and colleagues. This has variously ranged from formal panel presentations and informal chats with professors, lecturers, and community leaders in education at the University of Missouri, to formal Q&As and ECR meetings at Macquarie University, and informal hallway conversations and coffee-based chats with my enthusiastic and supportive colleagues here in the department!

What’s been your most memorable moment in teaching?

There have been so many, but one that really stands out takes me back to my second year as a classroom teacher. I taught a charming young man named Sasha, who was a recent Bosnian refugee. He spoke very little English, didn’t know what deodorant was, and had to be taught how to shower by the PE teacher in our school. Yet he had killed people as a child soldier – and now had nothing, except a tremendous desire to learn. One day I was teaching Year 10 Business Studies to a group of Bosnian and Serbian students (in the same ESL classroom, but sitting on different sides of the room as they were all war-traumatised refugees), and as I drew a table on the whiteboard for students to copy, Sasha started to yell out, “STOP! STOP! It is, …!” His voile trailed off as he demonstrated firing a gun at me. What he was trying to communicate, with his broken English, was that the sound of the marker on the whiteboard was like gunfire to him and the lines of the table were like barbed wire. That event changed my teaching style in a second: It made me far more empathetic to the traumas our students, both then and now, bring to the classroom.

What is your favourite book? Why?

I don’t know if there is just one. I have a penchant for classic dystopian literature, so Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Animal Farm by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, would be towards the top of my list. But I also have a deep-seated desire for strong female characters overcoming physical, mental, social, and economic hardship, so my top three books would have to be Heidi by Johanna Spyri (from when I was about 7 years old), Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (from when I was about 12 years old), and then as an older teen, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.

Get excited! Auto-Tutorial Groups in iLearn

This is a moment I have dreamed of for 6 years… Excuse me while I wipe away the tears of joy.

Development work has been done on iTeach, which will allow for Unit Convenors to automatically create Tutorial Groups in iLearn, that will be automatically updated when a student changes Tutorial Group in eStudent.  Units from Session 1 2018 will be able to use this new feature.

It’s a huge, time saving tool and means that you won’t have to wait until Week 4 to create Tutorial Groups in iLearn OR manually move students around when they change tutorials.

What will it look like in your unit? 

I’m glad you asked.  In Human Sciences we’ve successfully piloted this new feature in 4 units this year.  Here’s what it will look like:

What can you do with it?

You can allocate certain activities to certain groups, such as a discussion forum that is restricted to each tutorial group.  You can also allow students to view other tutorial group posts but not comment.  Pedagogically, smaller discussion groups help to create a learning community and students are more likely to contribute.

Functionally, teaching staff will be able to filter their view of student grades, forum or blog responses, etc by tutorial group.

If you’re excited as I am by this, email fohs.lds@mq.edu.au and we will make this happen for your S1 unit.

Written by Rebecca Ritchie, FoHS Learning Designer

What’s the process for Session 2 Exams?

Here’s an overview of the main need to know’s ..….

Exam meetings in the Departments

  • Moderation of assessments should have been taking place  throughout the unit offering this session.
  • Recommended that program based committee meetings precede a full Department exam meeting.
  • The focus questions for the discussion of the units within Departments have been changed.
  • Representatives from the Faculty Standards and Quality Committee (FSQC) will attend a selection of the program meetings.
  • Department exams meetings should focus on the quality assurance process, including the mitigation of academic misconduct.


Unit Convenors will be required to provide information about their unit via the Department Exam Results Report (a shared document in One Drive here – there is one report for each Department). This document incorporates all the information required from Unit Convenors.

Exam results spreadsheets will be sent out to Unit Convenors by staff in the Student Centre.

Please refer to the document in OneDrive called Unit Convenor Exam Results Processing which includes descriptors for the different types of grades that can be used.

Discussion of Units within Departments

The discussion of units should focus on the following three questions:

  1. What pre-moderation/quality assurance was used in the design of assessment tasks and marking procedures?
  2. How were the details of assessments varied from last offering to this offering? (eg change essay question etc)
  3. Explanation of any grades not able to be finalised (number of different types on incompletes and reason/s) and details of anticipated resolution date.


Heads of Department are required to complete the FoHS HOD Examinations Report to Faculty in OneDrive and forward the report and the Minutes of Department Exam Meetings by no later than 9am on Monday 11th December.

Faculty Exam Meeting – Monday 11th November 2017 – X5B292 1.30-4.00


FoHS staff feature prominently in the VC’s awards

And Glady joins the Dean in congratulating our Faculty award winning teachers and researchers recognised in the recent Vice-Chancellor’s Learning and Teaching Awards and the Research Excellence Awards.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Learning and Teaching Awards recognise and celebrate the efforts of individuals and teams who make outstanding contributions to learning and teaching and improve the quality of student engagement, experience and learning outcomes.  We would like to congratulate our recent winners:

Learning and Teaching Award – Student Led

Dr Anita Szakay, Department of Linguistics

Annette Magee, Department of Educational Studies

Mandy Yeates, Department of Educational Studies

Vice-Chancellor’s Citation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning, the team consisting of:

Associate Professor Kerry Sherman, Department of Psychology

Dr Susan Ferguson, Department of Psychology

Michael Rampe, Department of Linguistics

Christopher Kilby, Department of Psychology

Michael Catabay, Learning and Innovation Hub

Dr Jessica Alcorso, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence

Dr Wayne Warburton, Department of Psychology

The Research Excellence Awards provide an opportunity for us to acknowledge the quality of the research conducted within our Faculty, and recognise some of the many researchers who are contributing to truly impactful world-leading research. With this in mind, we would like to congratulate our recent winners:

Excellence in Research Award: 5 Future-Shaping Research Priorities

Professor Mark Wiggins, Department of Psychology (Prosperous Economies)

Associate Professor Kerry Sherman, Department of Psychology (Healthy People)

Early Career Research Excellence Award

Dr Carly Johnco, Department of Psychology

Higher Degree Research Excellence Award

Dr Nathan Caruana, Department of Cognitive Science

Macquarie University Research Fellowships

We also congratulate two of our early career researchers on their recent Macquarie University Research Fellowships. These highly competitive fellowships are awarded to outstanding researchers in the early stages of their career who show evidence of exceptional research potential. Please join us in congratulating:

Dr Nathan Caruana, Department of Cognitive Science

Dr Miriam Forbes, Department of Psychology

Special mention

Special mention goes to Associate Professor Kerry Sherman who received awards in both learning and teaching and research.

Transitioning from DTS to Special Consideration

We are about to enter the Rapid Improvement Transition Period – moving from DTS to Special Consideration.

Here’s what will happen:

The Disruption to Studies (DTS) Tracker Form will have a new look as of Friday 10th November 2017.  What Unit Convenors will notice is:

1.Each request will be sent to you separately with a unique case number. You may receive multiple requests for the same unit where multiple assessments were impacted.

2. There are three additional options for you to choose from when selecting a remedy. You can now refer cases when you are unable to provide a remedy, and may select “Other” when none of the existing remedies apply.

3. The student’s attachments are now hidden from view as they are only used for the administrative review step to determine if they comply with the University policy requirements for ‘serious and unavoidable’.  This limitation was directed by the University’s Audit and Risk subcommittee of the University Council.

4. You will also notice that the user interface has been improved!Please process the forms as normal for Session 2 units. 

Forms submitted on the old/existing form will continue to be processed on this form.

The NEW Special Consideration Policy and process comes into effect 4 December 2017 for Session 3 units.Please contact the Faculty Student Centre with any questions.

Teacher of the week: Kerry Sherman

Kerry Sherman is an Associate Professor in the Centre for Emotional Health, Department of Psychology

My research interest is broadly within behavioural medicine, with a specific focus on psycho-oncology, the application of psychology to understanding the cancer experience and in helping people cope with a cancer diagnosis. I started at Macquarie University initially as an Associate Lecturer whilst concurrently enrolled in my PhD.  After a three-year stint in the US at a major cancer centre as a postdoctoral fellow, I returned to Macquarie in 2003 where I set up a new undergraduate unit in health psychology.

My current research projects include implementing an online surgical decision support website for breast cancer patients, investigating how we can use self-compassion to help people through the cancer experience, educating women with lymphoedema (a cancer treatment side effect) to have better self-care, and several projects to identify factors associated with adjustment and wellbeing in cancer patients, new parents and individuals with chronic illness.

What are your main teaching commitments?

I am the Convenor of an undergraduate unit in health psychology, and co-convene a health psychology unit at the honours level. My teaching is exclusively within the domains of health psychology and behavioural medicine across an eclectic range of topics. My main teaching areas include communication within health contexts and media influences on health behaviours, health promotion, health inequalities, coping and adjustment to physical illness (e.g., changes in physical appearance, impacts on close relationships, long-term cancer survivorship issues) and psychological interventions to address these diverse issues.

What’s the biggest challenge you face as a university teacher?

As an applied discipline, it is critical that students of health psychology are able to learn the theoretical and evidence-based aspects while at the same time being able to extrapolate these concepts to real-world applications. Striking a balance between the theoretical and practical aspects of health psychology is the greatest challenge of effectively teaching in this area, particularly at the undergraduate level with large class sizes and limited resources.

What has helped you improve your teaching most and why?

iLearn and Moodle are probably the most influential factors that have helped improved my teaching. In particular, I came to the realisation that there was much more that I could do with iLearn than simply posting weekly recorded lectures and the accompanying powerpoint slides. I am now utilising the full range of functionality available in iLearn to create a highly interactive learning experience for students of health psychology. The learning and teaching of the undergraduate health psychology unit is now presented in a “flipped” mode with a range of diverse interactive components enabling the students to relate the theory to the practice of health psychology.  As part of this new approach, developing virtual patient case studies has really helped students to “bring to life” the theory and evidence-base of health psychology to real-world applications.

What’s been your most memorable moment in teaching?

Probably the most memorable moments in my teaching have been when students contact me near the end of semester saying how influential the unit has been on their lives. Students tell me about how they have completely changed their lifestyle after studying health psychology, now adopting a healthy way of life. Other students relate how after their health psychology studies they are now able to gain perspective on an adverse illness-related event in their lives. I also get a lot of satisfaction from students who are inspired after studying health psychology to change their career plans to something that embraces this discipline.

Who is your favourite music band? Why?

I have very eclectic tastes in music that span across genres and decades. So here goes……Black Keys, Muse, Nick Murphy (Chet Faker) and Meg Mac are top of my list in current music. I also really like the music of Les Rita Mitsouko (French band from the 80’s), John Butler Trio, and The Doors. Last but no means least, I am a big fan of the music of Dvorak and Beethoven for symphony orchestra and Frank Ticheli (Blue Shades) and Johan de Meij (Extreme Make Over) for wind symphony. Why? Any music that gets under my skin is good, irrespective of the genre.

Faculty Teaching Superstars announced

Recently, we wondered who our Faculty Teaching Superstar would be. Well, the wait is over – and we have not one, but three recipients of this student-nominated award.

Introducing our 2017 winners: 
Dr Anita Szakay (Department of Linguistics)
Annette Magee (Department of Educational Studies) and 
Mandy Yeates (Department of Educational Studies).


All three staff were nominated by students for their amazing ability to inspire, motivate, and transform learning – whilst consistently being all round outstanding, passionate teachers.  Sample rave reviews include

Anita has this amazing ability that gives students confidence in whatever they are faced [with] in the unit. Her content is quite difficult, however she always manages to express it in the most simplified ways to help us understand easily. Her passion for linguistics, especially phonetics, has made her perfect for teaching this degree… One day I hope I can mirror some of Anita’s fabulous qualities and traits. 


Annette has inspired us by constantly reminding us how special it is to be a teacher, and all the highlights we will have [in] our careers… She is very supportive, and established positive relationships with our class group very early on in the semester. Annette… contributed massively to my learning even in such a short time. She is highly dedicated and passionate about her role.


Mandy is such an incredibly passionate and energetic teacher. I absolutely love attending her two hour tutorials and perceive them to be a highlight in my university experience…   She brings a lot of life to the class and shares wonderful (relevant) stories which are inspiring….    I have always found her to be respectful and kind to all… I feel very supported as a student in her class.

Our winners were announced at the Vice Chancellor’s Academic Staff Awards Ceremony on 1st November.
Congratulations to you all!


Article written by Alex Thackray.

Special consideration returns from Session 3

The current Disruption to Studies (DTS) process is being replaced with a new Special Consideration policy which takes effect from Session 3 (4th December 2017).What is the major improvement of Special Consideration?  

A new policy has been written with simplified English and all previous contradictory statements have been removed.  A process with defined roles, escalation points and responsibility guidelines will be introduced. 

 Withdrawal without Academic Penalty as part of the Disruption to Study process will be a separate process, no longer linked to Special Consideration. This is to reduce confusion and prevent withdrawals occurring without the student’s express consent. 

 Who is assessing the application?  

The assessment of whether a student’s circumstances were serious and unavoidable is made at the administrative level by Faculty Student Centre staff.  The Student Centre staff member processing an application may provide remedies according to the agreed Remedy Matrix, or seek input from the relevant Academic staff or Unit Convenor regarding the outcome. If a special consideration request is escalated to the Unit Convenor, it has already been assessed and approved.  

 Privacy changes – Documentation will not be available for academics except in exceptional circumstances due to the enforcing of privacy legislation by the university. 

 Will I still have to grant outcomes to Special Consideration requests?? 

With this new policy and procedure, there will be a significant decrease in the number of applications received by academic staff. Mainly requests for online quizzes and class tests will come to you for an outcome.   

 How do I get notified about the outcome? 

You will receive a weekly report with detailed information on the remedy outcomes that Student Centre staff have applied.

What if students contact me regarding a Special Consideration application? 

If students have not lodged the Special Consideration application, please encourage them to apply within 5 working days after the assessment task due date, examination or test date.  Late applications will not be assessed. 

The process for students is outlined here (click on image to enlarge):

 If students have any questions regarding the application process, please refer them to the Student Centre. 

 What is the possible outcome?  

If an application for special consideration is approved, the University will attempt to provide students with 1 additional opportunity. No more than 1 alternative assessment will be offered. Students must make themselves available for the alternative assessment activity, otherwise, they forfeit the marks. Outcomes will be decided based on the agreed Remedy Matrix. 

 How long will it take for a student to be notified of the outcome? 

The university aims to communicate the outcome to students within 5 working days of receipt of application. 

 Can students withdraw from an application?  

Students may not withdraw from the submitted Special Consideration application and all necessary supporting documentations.

Will this change be reflected in 2018 Unit Guides?

Yes, the pre-filled ‘Policies and Procedures’ section in all unit guides has been updated. This is how it will appear (click on image to enlarge):

Contact the Faculty Student Centre for further advice and information.

Who will be our Faculty superstar?

As part of the Faculty Learning & Teaching plan, a student nominated teaching award was introduced for the first time this year.


Any Unit Convenor, lecturer or tutor could be nominated.

The process

A survey was made available to students via iLearn (including the iLearn survival guide) as well as using Faculty and Department social media such as Facebook, Twitter etc.  Student nominations closed last week.


Students were asked a series of open ended questions such as:

  • How has your teacher inspired you, motivated you, and transformed your understanding?
  • What is the most outstanding aspect of their teaching?
  • 250+ responses received
  • 70+ nominations
And the winner is….

The winner will be announced on 1st November at the Vice Chancellor’s Academic Staff Awards ceremony.

Teacher of the week: Garry Falloon

Garry is a recent recruit to the Department of Educational Studies.

I have recently joined Macquaire University as Professor of Digital Learning and the Fairfax Foundation Chair of Teacher Education. Prior to winning this position, I had a similar role at Waikato University in New Zealand, and before that I worked with corporates such as Microsoft and CSIRO researching and designing education programs for schools. I also have nearly 20 years experience teaching in, and leading, a range of New Zealand primary and secondary schools.

My past research activities include exploring the effect of app design on student learning pathways, technology-facilitated school-scientist partnerships, the use of synchronous virtual classrooms in supporting distance students, online learning environment design, and the design and use of digital learning objects for learning. Presently I am engaged in school-based research on using apps for building science procedural and conceptual knowledge, and for fostering higher-order thinking capabilities.

What are your main teaching commitments?

I am really enjoying my role teaching the digital technologies component in the undergraduate 0-12 years program. I spent the first week or so of my time here redeveloping the content for this, and it is a lot of fun working with some really focused and interested young people in the tutorials and online.

My other teaching work is in postgraduate MRes and PhD supervision, and there’s some good stuff happening there too! I am also working with quite a few staff on Digital Technologies teaching and research projects, and are fully engaged with schools in the Hub Schools program. I expect to be starting some applied research work with teachers at Oatlands school soon on a technology-in-STEM initiative, and I’m working as part of a team at Carlingford West exploring 3D printing in Makerspaces.

What’s the biggest challenge you face as a university teacher?

I think the biggest challenge is keeping ahead (or even pace with) of the phenomenal rate of change in my field. Digital technologies certainly have significant potential to transform education as we know it, but this needs to be supported by curriculum designs and teaching and assessment approaches that encourage and reward the sort of capabilities they are best able to support. This means more individualised and project-oriented approaches focused on building creative, critical and higher order thinking capacities that are going to be so important for everyone in the future.

What has helped you improve your teaching most and why?

A realisation that the type of skills and dispositions needed by young people exiting the education system now are fundamentally different to those required even a few years ago. The world is a much more complex place, and young people need skills and attitudes that will enable them to work together to solve the many problems that it faces now, and into the future. Realising this has changed the way (and what) I teach to hopefully encourage a more critical and inquiring attitude in my students – one that does not necessarily accept the status quo.

What’s been your most memorable moment in teaching?

I have to say that this probably happened when I was teaching new entrant children (5 year olds) in New Zealand. I can’t really put my finger on a single incident (it was a while ago now!) but I have very fond memories of working with these very young children and recall the huge satisfaction of seeing them grow and develop during their first year at school. I think that’s why I enjoy so much my current research work in classrooms.

Who is your favourite music band? Why?

That’s an easy one! It has to be Pink Floyd – I especially love their live concerts. The guitar work and melodies of David Gilmour in Dark Side of the Moon, and the magic of Roger Waters in The Wall, are standouts for me. It’s great that Waters is coming to Sydney next year. We’ve got our tickets already!