Four outstanding Australian law educators have been awarded last night at the 6th annual LexisNexis-ALTA Awards for Excellence and Innovation in the Teaching of Law by longstanding partners LexisNexis® Pacific and the Australasian Law Teachers Association (ALTA).

Associate Professor Rachael Field and Lecturer James Duffy won the major award for innovation, having made a significant impact on the teaching of Law at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Drawing on their expert knowledge in alternative dispute resolution, first year in higher education, and law student wellbeing, Rachael and James share the unique philosophy that the design, content and delivery of the law curriculum must be intentional, research–led, evidence based and informed by reflective practice. This approach recognises that the experience of legal education has a profound effect upon students and their well-being, impacting on their future success in the legal profession or other field of occupation.

Danielle Ireland–Piper, PhD candidate and senior teaching fellow at the Faculty of Law at Bond University took home the Early Career Award for student engagement.

The quality of innovations currently taking place in the teaching practice is remarkable.

"Students learn more effectively when engaged in meaningful and interactive learning that is put into a broader context", said Ireland-Piper. "To that end, I create opportunities for students to understand 'why' just as much as 'what' they are taught. Students have the chance to 'do' and not just to 'listen', to express their own opinion and not just recite that of another. We exist in a global community of learning and therefore I strive to incorporate internationalisation into my teaching. This enables students to place the law in context of the world around them and to articulate why that matters. This requires a teacher to embrace both the technological marvels of the current day and the wisdom of the ancients."

Professor Sally Kift, Deputy Vice Chancellor of James Cook University, won the Mentor of Teaching Excellence Award. Professor Kift was nominated by fifteen colleagues, all significant contributors themselves to teaching and scholarly research.

"A key theme of the testimonials reflected Sally's generosity and her genuine warmth in wanting to help people do well," said Dr Marc K Peter, Executive Director for LexisNexis Pacific. "Her sincere commitment to student learning and to improving the student experience of legal education through her role as a mentor of students and colleagues alike was quite evident."

The judging panel, comprised of ALTA teaching delegates, the previous major award winner and LexisNexis representatives, determined the 2013 winners by considering performance in the following areas:

  • Demonstrate teaching approaches that inspire learning
  • Approaches to assessment and feedback that encourage independent learning and respect and support
  • Development of curricula that reflect teaching innovation and leadership
  • Scholarly work that enhances learning and teaching activities

"The quality of innovations currently taking place in the teaching practice is remarkable," said Dr Peter. "LexisNexis is proud to recognise the exceptional work of law teachers in inspiring students to engage with their learning."

Highly commended were Alex Steel, School of Law, University of New South Wales and Kate Offer, Law School, University of Western Australia.

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