Home' Link : Learn Issue No. 1 Contents Killer
An award-winning Central Queensland
toxicologist is training up a dynamic,
cohort of environmental health
professionals, while building up a
national reputation as one of Australia's
most outstanding teachers, writes
From investigating the biodegradation of pesticides in
mangrove sediments to researching the management
of fungal toxins in Australian maize crops,
CQUniversity's Lisa Bricknell has a wealth of experience in
the buzz area of environmental health.
She blasted into the Australian media back in 2008 after
presenting a 'killer' paper at a national conference. "I
really hadn't expected the attention -- I was thinking it was
going to be a fairly low key conference and that I'd just be
presenting to fellow environmental health professionals,"
Within a day of making the presentation Bricknell's
name and her Killer Cornflake story was over international
and national television, radio and newspapers. It even
reached CBS News in the United States.
Since then she has often been called upon to give
comment to media on a range of topics from toxins in corn
to the health impact of the recent Queensland floods.
While her research is newsworthy, it's Bricknell's ability
to engage her students in course content that won her a 2011
Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning
by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC).
Bricknell was presented with the award for her 'excellence
in flexible curriculum design and delivery' and her ability
to create a supportive environment and to inspire students
to learn. She was one of 22 'early career' achievers being
recognised by the ALTC this year.
"I'm quite overwhelmed at winning the Citation,
knowing I've been judged as being up there with some
incredibly talented educators," Ms Bricknell said.
She has also previously been acknowledged with the
Vice-Chancellor's Award for Learning and Teaching and a
2010 Dean's Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.
Bricknell's interest in online learning began when she
worked as a research assistant back in 2001. "We were
researching academic workload and I realised today's
academics have a significantly different job to what they
did 20 years ago. Teaching by external delivery requires
entirely different approaches from doing it face to face."
Bricknell said she strives to influence, motivate and
inspire students to learn by using innovative problem-based
learning activities, based on real life circumstances, that
require students to synthesise knowledge and apply skills
developed at all stages of their program of study.
"Students really like material delivered online with a
human face -- so they like audio and video of lecturers.
Simply presenting the study material in text format isn't
good enough any more."
Complementing the online courses, Bricknell uses
residential schools to provide simulated learning
experiences for her students.
"At res schools students want the experience to be quite
intense -- they don't want to sit in a lecture theatre listening
to me. They want to learn actively.
"I have a great activity in my food safety res school
where I give them a short lecture on how food borne illness
outbreaks are investigated and what to look for and follow it
up with a desktop investigation where the students become
the investigators. I play a variety of roles and they interview
me to get the facts. This session always goes over really
"I find students love to be challenged and they like their
assessment to be realistic and relevant to what they do or
are planning to do. I build my assessment tasks around a
real-life model, simulating what they would be doing in the
It's this approach to learning that is getting Bricknell the
'thumbs up' from her students and their employers.
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