20062021

Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Biography

Dr Nirma Samarawickrema has extensive experience teaching Biochemistry to undergraduates both in Sri Lanka and Australia. Her students come from diverse backgrounds, capabilities, expectations and are mostly transitioning to University. Here at Monash she teaches Bachelor of Medical Science and Doctor of Medicine, Bachelor of Biomedical Science, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Nutritional Science students and has adapted her teaching to accommodate large classes.

She is a skilful educator whose practice has focused on diversity and large class size with the aim of facilitating lifelong learning in her students through developing partnerships for learning. She includes activities involving low and high stakes pre-, in- and post-class activities. These learning designs deliberately build partnerships among students transitioning to university enabling them to co-teach, peer-assess, peer-review and co-create learning resources. She has also innovatively implemented efficient assessment approaches such as peer partnerships in assessments.

Consequently, Nirma’s investigations of her practice has centred on her innovative work in her classroom. Her SoTL research therefore has focussed on evaluation of peer assessment approaches and the benefits of peer partnerships in assessments. She has demonstrated the teaching and research nexus in her classroom by using her disciplinary research on Human papillomavirus and cervical cancer to enrich curricula to inspire student learning. The outcome of this experience was that student feedback helped further her SoTL and her disciplinary research thus emphasising the value of students as partners in her own evolution as a teacher and a researcher.

Currently she is a Co-Director of Education in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Chair of the Education Special Interest Group of the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) and a Co-editor of The Australian Biochemist, magazine of the ASBMB.

In recognition of her contribution to teaching, learning and SoTL she was made a Fellow of the Monash Education Academy in 2017, Fellow of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia in 2019 and is the winner of the ASBMB Education Award for 2020.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, BSc, MSc, PhD

Research area keywords

  • teaching-research nexus
  • authentic assessments
  • assessment literacy

Network

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