Shaping the WIL Vision Creating and sustaining WIL relationships Fostering WIL engagement Communicating and influencing Driving organisational outcomes WIL Context

The WIL Leadership Framework

WIL Leadership Vignette 20:

Leading innovative teaching – an authentic approach for active learning



Dr Jan West
Deakin University

What was learned from this:

  • The flipped-classroom has been a rewarding journey and a wonderful experience as the students' overall learning experience and level of engagement has improved and I have, in turn, learned much from my students.
  • Research must inform teaching with opportunities in the unit to present current research to the students.

Context of the event, experience or activity:

Leading the transformation of the delivery of science teaching in both online and premium located modes to enrich the student experience requires an integration of the discipline knowledge with the skills necessary to apply this knowledge in authentic areas. One important aspect that employers need from students is the ability to review and test their understanding and to critically reflect on their application of concepts. This type of WIL can happen in the classroom or online if the learning is designed appropriately.

Description of the event, experience or activity:

The implementation of unique innovative teaching methods for Physiology including a “flipped-classroom”, is receiving positive feedback from both staff and students. This approach to teaching was trialled and later implemented in a second-year unit on Physiology. In setting assessment tasks, students are encouraged to engage in practices that challenge them to question why rather than simply regurgitate facts. The practical curriculum is a mixture of dissection, hands on experience doing experiments, experimental design, running routine laboratory tests, and measuring parameters on themselves (like medical practitioners).

Students have diverse voices, learn in a variety of ways and approach problem solving using different strategies. This teaching promotes multiple approaches to learning using engaging learning opportunities which bring case studies to life and the 'real-world' into the classroom. In each of these different ways individual student learning is facilitated through recognition of the central role of pluralist values in education. 'Real-life' examples used to engage and challenge students include: the artificial heart pump; what causes muscle fatigue; Michelangelo’s Statue of David teaches blood pressure regulation; physiological changes that occur in astronauts; and the 'Test Tube Puppy' which attends the lecture on frozen semen technology in reproductive physiology.


  • Independent survey results showed that 96% of students attended the face-to-face in-class activities and the questions students asked demonstrated greater depth of understanding.
  • Authentic case-study based approach to physiology has resulted in a more engaging, interactive learning experience for students. The imaginative learning resources that have been developed have influenced, inspired and motivated students to learn the material with a deeper level of understanding.
  • Provides leadership in the development of authentic learning experiences for students.
  • Mentoring new academic staff to create an enriching learning environment for the both staff and students.

Dr Jan West is Senior Lecturer in Physiology in the School of Life and Environmental Science at Deakin University. As well as her teaching and research role, she is also Associate Head of School (Teaching and Learning) in the School.





Last Update: 23 April, 2014
Reference: Page 34