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CLeaR Fellows 2016 – Associate Professor Jenny Sim

Building a Teaching Learning Community with Tender Loving Care

Associate Professor Jenny SimThe CLeaR Fellows within the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, from 2014 and 2015, combined their passion and skills to support Jenny’s effervescent endeavour to provide a supportive and energised community of colleagues.

Jenny is the Medical Imaging Programme Director in the School of Medical Sciences. She has been a university academic for the past 25 years and, prior to joining the University of Auckland, has worked in a number of Australian universities as the Medical Imaging Programme Leader and Discipline Head of Medical Radiations. She enjoys pushing boundaries and relishes the challenges of designing innovative curricula that enhance student learning.

The Formation of the FMHS Teaching & Learning Community (TLC)

As part of my 2016 CLeaR Fellowship, I set off to establish an informal network of academic staff within FMHS. The aim was to form a critical mass at the ground level to foster, promote and share learning and teaching practices in a safe and supportive environment. It is the intention that this informal network or Teaching & Learning Community (TLC) will serve as a forum of exchange that may lead to interdisciplinary collaborations of innovative teaching practices within and beyond the FMHS.

Format of TLC

Together with Angela (Tsai) and Trudi (Aspden), the 2015 and 2014 CLeaR Fellows, we led and facilitated fortnightly TLC meetings. To encourage staff attendance, the timing of the TLC meetings were scheduled to precede the FMHS Faculty meetings. All Tamaki TLC sessions were therefore arranged just before the Faculty meetings at Tamaki.

Topics for these meetings were determined by meeting attendees. With the introduction of Canvas in 2016, five out of 18 topics were related to Canvas (27%). Staff attendance ranged from 5 to 21, with each session averaging 10+/-. Aside from the inaugural meeting, the most popular and well attended sessions were the three sessions focusing on writing about teaching:

Useful tips on Writing about your teaching: 20 attendees (Associate Professor Mark Barrow)
Getting started with a teaching philosophy: 17 attendees (LTU: Fiona Spence & Pauline Cooper-Ioelu)
Exploring and refining my teaching philosophy: 11 attendees (LTU: Fiona Spence & Pauline Cooper-Ioelu)

2016 CLeaR Fellowship output: TLC Canvas presence

The TLC team created a Canvas website where all 2016 TLC presentations, along with notes for the meetings, were uploaded onto the website. This ensured that staff members who were unable to attend, but keen to learn more about the sessions, were able to access the materials.

Feedback from the 2016 TLC

The TLC sessions often stimulated vibrant discussions. Selected ‘talking points’ that surfaced during the 2016 TLC journey were conveyed to the FMHS Faculty Education Committee (FEC) for their consideration. The feedback revolved around SET evaluations, promotion of scholarship of teaching and learning across the Faculty, funding support for teaching and the U21project for Conceptual Teaching.

Reflecting on 2016 TLC

We conducted a survey amongst members on the effectiveness of the 2016 TLC. The survey results were presented on the 20th September to members. The 2016 TLC was deemed by the respondents to be a success. Another major theme that emerged was the expressed desire of members to ensure the TLC continues into 2017. For an informal network such as the TLC to put down firm roots in order to assist with longevity, takes more than a single year. Therefore the success of the 2016 TLC is to a certain extent, judged by its continuation into 2017 and beyond and this desire is very heartening. Along with the message of continuity, there were suggestions regarding the format of 2017 TLC delivery.

2016 CLeaR Fellowship outcome: 2017 TLC

I am pleased to report that the FMHS TLC will continue in 2017. Presentations and resources from the fortnightly sessions will continue to be available on the 2017 FMHS TLC Canvas.

There is an acute awareness that facilitating and leading the TLC solo for the entire year is an onerous task. In addition, many FMHS staff hold fractional appointments. We therefore see involvement in the TLC as an effective way for part-timers, who are extremely time-poor, to contribute to university initiatives at the Faculty level. As such, for 2017, the TLC will be led by a app4_2017_tlc_team from Grafton and Tamaki campuses.


We would like to take this opportunity to thank Associate Professor Mark Barrow, Professor Helen Sword and Professor Graeme Aitken for their support of the 2016 TLC and the CLeaR Fellowship programme. Last but not least, our sincere thanks to all staff members, whose passion for teaching and learning draw us together to share, encourage and to support one another, in the pursuit of teaching excellence.

Jenny Sim (2016 CLeaR Fellow)

On behalf of the 2016 TLC Team, Angela Tsai (2015 CLeaR Fellow) and Trudi Aspden (2014 CLeaR Fellow)