Dr Crawford's approach to OH&S training as a way of life earns her a national award

28 February 2022

CQUniversity Lecturer Elise Crawford's commitment to immersing her students into the 'ife' of Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) has earned her a 2021 Australian Award for University Teaching (AAUT).

Dr Crawford was cited with an AAUT for the innovative way in which she helps OH&S students develop lifelong learning skills necessary for the profession. She was one of four CQU award recipients.

"My approach gives our students an advantage compared to other universities with employment and skills development' well above national averages'" she said.

"I feel honoured' but also validated that learning and teaching experts from different universities from around Australia also acknowledge that my approach to learning and teaching is exemplary. So' to be recognised at the national level is rather exciting but also reassuring.

"One of the challenges for the OHS profession is that it must keep up with changes in industry at a time where the nature of work is changing quickly and in dramatic ways which makes their core business' hazards and risks' a moving target."

Of her application' the AAUT said Dr Crawford's immersive and innovative approach was reflected positively in the student satisfaction ratings.

"Student satisfaction ratings and graduate outcomes are impressive' as are the authentic assessments' where students' solutions are sometimes adopted by industry partners'" the citation read.

Dr Crawford' who has been a lecturer at CQU while working for the Queensland Government Department of Workplace Health and Safety since 2010' said her students were "legitimate members of the profession from day one".

"I encourage community and professional networking. I also immerse student learning by requiring assessment items to be conducted in real world environments'" she said.

"Through the sharing of practice' student work has led to reciprocal learning and improvements in industry and community settings. In this way' students contribute to the living body of OHS knowledge as mobilised by the sharing of practice.

"I maintain skills and knowledge currency the same way I encourage student lifelong learning' through the act of sharing OHS practice. Though as an educator' I make my training meaningful to students by providing OHS profession-related experiences that are situated in real world settings and involve the use of current and authentic skills to the profession.

"I also encourage lifelong learning' with the realisation that this profession must be able to evolve as work evolves. So' I also encourage students to critically evaluate what they are learning' and to share and discuss their thoughts with their peers' knowing that this knowledge and practice may or may not be applicable into the future."

She said she sees her role as an important one towards the future development of the OHS profession' its continued relevance' and by extension the living body of OHS knowledge.

"If I can help our students participate in the sharing of practice on their own volition' they will become lifelong learners and become part of the living body of OHS knowledge."