2011 Sessional Awards - Dr Donna Rigano

JCU Sessional Teachers participate in a range of teaching roles and thus are oftentimes at the very forefront of student engagement, hence their ability to influence student learning in powerful ways. Sessionals contribute meaningfully to the learning and teaching community and their genuine interest in facilitating student learning, promotes high quality learning experiences as is evident in SFS.

The casual teaching experience encompasses but is not limited to preparing for and presenting tutorials and/or workshops; lectures; mentoring and group facilitation; designing teaching materials; external/online teaching and marking. In 2011, JCU peers and colleagues nominated Dr. Donna Rigano for the FAESS Sessional Award, recognising her outstanding contributions to Student Learning.

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Dr Donna Rigano,

Tutor, School of Education

I have been teaching on and off with the School of Education since 2000. This award acknowledges that sessional staff are just as dedicated and enthusiastic about teaching as permanent staff. Helping students understand the demands of science teaching is a challenge at times, but also a very worthwhile and satisfying experience. Receiving this award confirms that my efforts are appreciated.

I tutor in first year and in third year, as well as in the Diploma of Education one year course. Subjects I tutor in include Foundations of Sustainability in Education; Science for Primary Schools; Primary Science Curriculum and Secondary Science Curriculum. Science is a daunting subject for most students so it is important that they feel supported, especially when they might be struggling. Being available to answer all of their queries promptly is essential. I respond to every request for help, even the most trivial, so that students know that I sincerely want them to succeed in the subject. I use the principle of “we can make it happen” to guide my interactions with the students so when they come to me with a problem, I truly believe that it can be solved.

Science involves understanding and using technical terms and jargon that students must come to terms with and it is too easy for students to throw their hands up in despair. I will always search for ways to relate the content with practical examples that help students make sense of the topic. For example last year we incorporated the science of cyclones, tsunamis, and earthquakes into the course material, in ways that were relevant and meaningful to what they were experiencing or hearing about in the news. My goal is to make science accessible to students who would usually steer clear of it.