A distinguished circle of inspiration

Associate Professor Alexandra Webb SFHEA

While Associate Professor Alexandra Webb SFHEA first fell in love with teaching as a result of the inspiring teachers she had as a University student, her own track record of inspiring students at ANU was a major catalyst for her most recent recognition of ANU Distinguished Educator.

The title of ANU Distinguished Educator is awarded to the University’s most outstanding leaders in teaching and learning, in recognition of their eminence and sustained exceptional performance. As a Senior Fellow since 2014 (she was a Fellow for many years prior, having initially gained the recognition at University of Southampton), Alexandra has also been a recipient of an Australian Awards for University Teaching (AAUT) Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning, and an ANU Vice-Chancellor’s Award in the same category. With more than 20 years’ experience of teaching in anatomy, the legions of students Alexandra has impacted can thank those teachers she had during her own studies for igniting her career as an educator.

“My teachers at University were just so engaging and enlightening, that I fell in love with both the discipline of anatomy, as well as the potential to teach at the same time, so I think those were the beginnings of my interest in becoming an academic” she recalls.

Alexandra admits that her path to becoming an academic was convoluted. After completing a science degree, she went on to study a Masters’ degree in a professional clinical discipline, while also working clinically. Regardless of what she was doing, her passion for anatomy and teaching endured, leading her to start teaching part-time anatomy at a university, which segued into a juggling act of full-time teaching and completing her PhD. Among the many aspects of teaching she loves, being able to synthesise complicated material for students is chief among them.

“I like presenting material to students in a way that is easy to understand,” she says.

“The human body is really complex and difficult to understand in parts, so for me, really having an in-depth understanding of the human body, and being able to present it to students in a simple way that they can understand, is really rewarding.

“I also train medical students to become doctors, so I like to present the material in a way where they can see how that knowledge of anatomy is going to be useful in their future professional lives. It is a real buzz to see those lightbulbs turn on in their heads, when they understand a principle and can actually start to use it, which is wonderful, because you know they will carry that forward and use it in their future clinical lives, and it will make them better doctors, which will result in better healthcare for our patients in Australia.”

As the newest Distinguished Educator at ANU, Alexandra joins Professor Michael Martin PFHEA, Professor Paul Francis SFHEA, A/Prof Carol Hayes SFHEA, Professor Michael Platow SFHEA and A/Prof Asmi Wood PFHEA, as EFS Fellows who hold the prestigious title. Dr Catherine Frieman and Dr John Minns round out the current group of eight, whose mission it is to help lead, at a strategic level, innovation in education within the University. Following her appointment, Alexandra is typically enthusiastic about her newest role, and the potential it has for impact on teaching across the University.

“I’m really excited about having the opportunity to move across the University, to get out of my own School and College and interact with other educators across the University, and to have an impact on achieving excellence in education at ANU.”

 

Read more about Alex’s role as an ANU Distinguished Educator