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2002 News Archive

LEME E&T Program Leader wins Adelaide University teaching prize

Associate Prof Patrick James, Dept of Geology and Geophysics Deputy Head (and CRC LEME E&T Program Leader) was one of four winners the 2002 "Stephen Cole the Elder" prizes. The prizes are awarded annually by Adelaide University to academic staff whose teaching is regarded of excellent quality by students and academic colleagues. The winners each receive $5,000 for furthering their teaching activities and also a certificate.

Mrs Isabella Cole Weinsberg funded the Stephen Cole prizes from a bequest to the University. Stephen Cole the Elder (1814-1888) was Mrs Weinsberg’s maternal grandfather.

Pat was interviewed for the AU newspaper the Adelaidean - extract from the December 2002 issue follows:

"Dr Patrick James still remembers the day back in 1975 when he launched his teaching career and was thrown in front of students and told to lecture a subject he knew nothing about. "It was a terrifying experience and for the next eight to nine years I lived with the fear of teaching", he said.

Dr James said teaching has many obstacles. "When you enter a lecture room of 100 students, your job is to please the participants. It’s tough. It’s daunting. As a lecturer you have to provide enough stimulation to keep the students in the room and ensure they are both enjoying the session and learning at the same time", he said.

"It is particularly pleasing to know that your efforts have been formally recognised and I am truly flattered in receiving this honour ".

Dr James concedes it has taken time to learn good teaching methods. But he has also researched teaching procedures, challenged his own approaches and attended teaching conferences. Today, he can speak of a philosophy that is clearly working.

"My philosophy for teaching in the University environment has been to stimulate the interest of students in all aspects of science in general, but geoscience in particular", he said.

"My attitude to teaching and learning is simple and follows the well-recognised principles of effective university teaching, ie the balanced inculcation of knowledge, skills and attitude. I apply this using three maxims: be prepared, be available and be ready to listen".

Dr James, who has now taught and worked as a geology researcher for close on 30 years, said his message to prospective teachers is to try to retain a one-on-one relationship with the students. "It has worked for me and reaped the rewards", he said.

Congratulations Pat. It is good to get a personal insight on one of our Program Leaders. These ‘teaching’ skills are clearly of great use also in the Executive Committee forum!

Sue Game
3 Jan 03

Dr Pat James with his daughter, EmmaPat James with his daughter, Emma, who graduated with a Bachelor of Mathematical and Computer Sciences on the same day her dad received his award.



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