The path to learning is a critical one

19 MARCH 2009

Compulsory tutorials, late night teleconferences and a string of student accolades can all be traced to CSU academic, Dr Graeme McLean.

Compulsory tutorials, late night teleconferences and a string of student accolades can all be traced to Charles Sturt University  (CSU) academic, Dr Graeme McLean.
Dr Graeme McLean who has been named the winner of the 2008 Vice-Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence. The senior lecturer and coordinator of the philosophy discipline at CSU has been named winner of the 2008 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence for his ‘outstanding contribution and sustained commitment’ to teaching and learning at the University.
Doctor McLean, from the CSU School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Wagga Wagga, eagerly admits he puts his internal and distance education students of philosophy ‘through the hoops’.
One of those hoops includes the introduction of compulsory tutorials for internal philosophy students - a move Dr McLean is adamant has been free of student complaints.
“There is no hiding in my classes as all the students participate,” said Dr McLean. “Once they get over the shock, the students enjoy the tutorials.”
“Learning is a very active thing … you can’t learn for someone. My job as a teacher is to help the student through the learning process, drawing out the knowledge and ultimately enabling the student to take the next step in critical thinking and intellectual development.”
Dr McLean adopts what is known as the Socratic Method in his teaching style. And like the Greek philosopher, Socrates, one can go to his students for testimonials for his work.
One student last year described Dr McLean as 'outstanding for his knowledge, patience and helpfulness'. In 2007 a student said of the CSU academic’s teaching methods 'I cannot sing his praises enough'. Words like ‘enthusiasm’, ‘passion’ and ‘inspirational’ also flow freely in student comments.
Joining CSU in 2005, Dr McLean lectures Bachelor of Arts students in philosophy as well as doing what is known as ‘service teaching’ of applied ethics to a range of future professionals such as radiographers, clinical science students and social workers.
CSU's Dr Graeme McLean with one of his former students and winner of the CSU Medal Mr Aidan Luke at the CSU graduation on Thursday 2 April 2009. Mr Luke was accompanied by his father Rodney Luke from Canberra. “The weekly teleconference I introduced to enable distance education students to go over their study guides has also been eagerly embraced by students,” said Dr McLean. “Starting at 7pm and lasting up to two and a half hours, the session draws together a diverse range of people for critical thinking from a farmer in rural Australia or a student in Austria sitting at home in near zero temperatures.”
“Dr McLean has redesigned the teaching of philosophy at CSU and in doing so has reinvigorated the discipline,” said Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Carmen Moran. “He deserves the award for the time and energy he puts into his teaching day in and out.”
The 2008 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence will be presented to Dr McLean during one of six graduation ceremonies at CSU at Wagga Wagga from 10.30am on Thursday 2 April.

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Albury-Wodonga Bathurst Canberra Dubbo Orange Wagga Wagga Ontario, Canada Charles Sturt University