Nirma Samarawickrema



Research activity per year

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Personal profile


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 MBBS, Biomedical Science, Science and 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 coordinates and teaches in a first year core unit of the BiomedSc degree, a second year Biochemistry unit of the BSc degree, second year core unit of the Bachelor of Nutritional Science degree and coordinates the department’s overall teaching in the MBBS degree.

In recognition of her contribution to teaching, learning and SoTL she was made a Fellow of the Monash Education Academy, Fellow of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia, Co-editor of the Australian Biochemist magazine and is the chair of Education, of the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Education/Academic qualification

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, BSc, MSc, PhD

Research area keywords

  • teaching-research nexus
  • authentic assessments
  • assessment literacy


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