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Italian lecturer awarded prestigious teaching citation

Dr Mariolina Pais Marden recognised for engaging approach to languages, culture studies

University of Wollongong (UOW) Lecturer Dr Mariolina Pais Marden has been recognised in the 2018 Australian Awards for University Teaching, announced last week (Tuesday 26 February).

Dr Pais Marden, from the Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts, received a National Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning in the national awards, led by Universities Australia.

As a lecturer in Italian and Convenor of the Italian Studies Program at UOW, Dr Pais Marden has gained a reputation as a dedicated and passionate teacher who is committed to her students.

Originally from Italy, Dr Pais Marden studied an undergraduate degree in arts, and then a Masters in language teaching at the University of Bologna, before relocating to Australia.

She has been at UOW for 16 years, and relishes her role in helping students to discover the joy of learning a second language.

“I might be biased, but in my opinion, Italian is one of the most beautiful languages one could choose to learn,” Dr Pais Marden said.

“My teaching is informed by my research into communities of learners and authentic learning environments and I love providing my students with a learning experience that is meaningful and relevant.”

Dr Pais Marden said students often begin learning Italian with no idea of where it could lead.

“Often it is perceived that learning a foreign language is not that useful, but it is the process of learning and engaging with each other that is valuable,” she said.

“It can lead students on a different path that they didn’t expect. Many of my students travel to Italy but many also end up living and working there or having careers that are somehow related to the Italian language and culture.”

When she began to learn English, Dr Pais Marden said she never imagined that it would lead to her relocating to Australia. She lived in London and in Denver as a university exchange student and taught Italian at Denver University for one year before completing her Masters at Bologna.

She then moved to Australia and taught at the Australian National University and at the University of South Australia before taking up her position at UOW. She completed her PhD at Perth’s Murdoch University.

Dr Pais Marden was thrilled to receive the citation in the 2018 Australian Awards for Teaching, for her focus on bringing students together with Italian speaking mentors and helping them to engage in culturally relevant activities.

National Citations are awarded to those who have made a significant contribution to the quality of student learning. They recognise the diverse contributions made by individuals and teams to the quality of student learning in the higher education sector.

Dr Pais Marden’s citation is based on the design, development and implementation of a blended second language learning environment which integrates communication technologies with engaging tasks to provide students with authentic language learning experiences.

Trained native speaker mentors inspire students to develop a high level of language proficiency and intercultural awareness in real-life communicative settings.

“I am creating a community of learners that supports students’ interaction and communication with other students and native speakers in real-life situations. I believe it is important that students feel part of a broader community of speakers that can support them and motivate them not only to improve their language skills but also to continue their learning outside of the classroom and after their formal studies.”

She said the award would help to shine a light on the value of learning a language.

“I am really happy to have won the award,” she said. “It is great that languages are being recognised on a national level.”

The Australian Awards for University Teaching acknowledges the exemplary work being done by university educators and support staff to improve the student experience and enhance learning outcomes in higher education.

Universities Australia announced the 2018 Australian Awards for University Teaching at the National Convention Centre in Canberra.


Posted in Education
Tagged: Arts, Education, Languages