Seminar: Developing student engagement through creative practices

professional development

Harold White Theatre, Level 1, 757 Swanston Street, Parkville


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Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education

T: 03 8344 4605

Developing student engagement through creative and multi-disciplinary teaching, learning and assessment practices: The Performing Sciences

This seminar offers a case study in advancing innovative and imaginative teaching, learning and assessment approaches to science education. Our project The Performing Sciences engaged teaching staff from biomedical sciences and theatre practice to design an assessment activity in which students were required to explicate a biochemical concept or process using embodied modes of performance. Results from the student experience reflection survey suggest that the activity helped students to understand the course material while also promoting active, interactive and collaborative forms of learning and fostering student engagement. Drawing on this case study, the seminar will explore the potential for creative and non-traditional forms of teaching, learning and assessment to enhance the affective dimensions of student engagement, provide students with the opportunity to develop important transferable skills, and foster their intrinsic motivation to learn science.


Dr Terry Mulhern, Senior Lecturer, School of Biomedical Sciences

Terry Mulhern (pictured above right) is the Director of Teaching and Learning for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the School of Biomedical Sciences at The University of Melbourne. He obtained his PhD from the University of Queensland and has held teaching and research positions at the Universities of Oxford, Adelaide and Melbourne. At Melbourne, he teaches Biochemistry in the Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Biomedical Science and the Doctor of Medicine. Terry is passionate about finding the intersections between science and art – working with colleagues in the Faculties of Education and Fine Arts and Music to help students to ‘act like a scientists’ by embodying biological process as a way to help them understand concepts better and to explain them to their peers. Terry was the 2018 winner of the University’s David White Award for Teaching Excellence and the 2017 winner of the Faculty of Medicine Dentistry and Health Science’s Award for Learning and Teaching Achievement.

Rinske Ginsberg, Lecturer in Theatre, Victorian College of the Arts

Rinske Ginsberg (pictured above left) trained as an actor at the VCA.  She has over 35 years experience as performer, movement educator and dramaturge in theatre education institutions and in the performing arts industry. She holds a Master of Theatre Practice and is a lecturer in Acting (specialising in the actor’s body) at VCA Theatre. Rinske’s areas of research are non-verbal communication, physical and spatial dramaturgy and the use of theatre training techniques for developing skills in teaching and learning across academic disciplines. Her pedagogical and creative practice is predicated on motional improvisation, physical theatre and physical approaches to performance making. She is currently collaborating with the School of Biomedical Sciences exploring ways embodied performance might enhance students’ engagement with and learning of, biochemical processes.

Dr Sarah French, Lecturer in Higher Education, Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education

Sarah French is Lecturer in Higher Education at the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education (Melbourne CSHE). She obtained her PhD in theatre studies from the University of Melbourne (2006) and lectured extensively in the fields of theatre studies and cinema studies prior to joining the MSCHE in 2015. Sarah is an interdisciplinary researcher with research interests spanning the fields of higher education, theatre and performance, cinema studies and gender studies. She has published widely in the areas of feminist theatre and performance, film and philosophy and higher education and is the author of the book Staging Queer Feminisms (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). In her current role Sarah coordinates the Melbourne CSHE’s suite of professional development programs for graduate researchers and undertakes research projects that focus on contemporary issues in higher education. She is especially interested in exploring ways in which concepts from theatre and performance studies might be applied to develop innovative approaches to teaching and learning in higher education.