Despite COVID-19 impacting face-to-face teaching in 2020' CQUniversity Cairns Tourism Lecturer' Dr Anja Pabel continued to provide unwavering support to her student cohort.
So much so' that she achieved a top student evaluation for her Master of Sustainable Tourism Management unit in Term 2' 2020' and was awarded a CQUniversity Student Voice Award for Educator of the Year.
"To be honest this award came as a surprise. It is very humbling! I love teaching and I surely don't teach to receive awards' but it is great to have been recognised by my students'" Dr Pabel said.
"The most rewarding aspect of my job at CQUniversity is the interactions with my students. My teaching goal is to facilitate learning by creating an engaging and interactive environment' where students feel comfortable to contribute and discuss their ideas.
"It is these discussions that I enjoy the most' as students reflect on their own experiences as tourists' customers' and even tourism professionals."
Dr Pabel said in retrospect' the transition to online learning was not as challenging as first thought' given CQUniversity's teaching methodologies pre-COVID-19.
"My students already accessed their learning materials via Moodle. The only aspect that changed was that the weekly face-to-face lectures were swapped with weekly online lectures'" she said.
"Even so' I ensured that my online lectures still provided the same learning support that my students were used to from my face-to-face classes. I spent a lot of time clarifying my assessment expectations and advising how the learning outcomes of a particular lecture relate to the task at hand."
Anja's commitment to her students contributed to CQUniversity's five-star rating for teaching in the latest release of the QS Stars University Ratings' a rating system from the highly reputable Quacquarelli Symonds.
Dr Pabel said the experience reaffirmed her love of teaching and even resulted in some newfound skills.
"I am feeling a lot more comfortable with the online teaching environment or blended learning models' so I guess COVID-19 provided me as an opportunity to 'grow my wings' as an educator'" she said.
"In the online teaching environment' I think it's imperative to break the learning materials down into manageable sections and allow for frequent breaks' so students can refresh their minds."
CQUniversity Master of Sustainable Tourism Management student' Agata Adamczewska said Dr Pabel was very deserving of this recognition.
"Apart from being very understanding' friendly' and good-humoured' Anja is open-minded and ever-so motivating. In the case I had any issues with learning materials or completing my assignments' Anja would always be there'" she said.
"Given that sometimes we struggle with deadlines' having your lecturer there 24/7 to answer your queries is very helpful. I never waited longer than a few hours for an email back' and that was precious."
Other CQUniversity Student Voice Award winners include Distance Educator of the Year' Dr Karen Klockner' and On-campus Educator of the Year' Helen Madell.
A total of 117 CQUniversity teaching team members received a Student Voice Commendation for one or more of their unit offerings' in one or more categories.