THE 2016 BECKMAN COULTER EDUCATION AWARD: GIOVANNA DI TRAPANI
School of Natural Sciences
Dr Giovanna Di Trapani is a senior lecturer in the School of Natural Sciences at Griffith University (GU). She completed her undergraduate studies in Italy and her PhD in Biochemistry at GU. Her research covers scientific interests, in the field of redox and oxygen control in cancer biology, as well as an interest in the area of scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL), with the development and implementation of innovative practices and curricula in the context of laboratory courses in the biological sciences.
Giovanna believes that engagement is a key element of the learning process and ‘learning by doing’ is a teaching strategy she uses to achieve engagement.
To achieve this, she has developed and implemented innovative ‘hands on’ competency based stand alone laboratory courses, an example of which is Biotechniques Laboratory. This course was developed as an introductory, stand-alone, second year laboratory course with a focus on the development of practical skills, competencies and knowledge in experimental techniques commonly used across the disciplines of biochemistry, molecular biology and microbiology. The course facilitates the achievement of student laboratory competencies through: pre-laboratory preparation that utilises innovative online resources; the teaching of explicit skills; a competency-based approach with the achievement of designated competencies determining progression; opportunities to repeat to achieve competency; post-lab workshops linking theory with practice; and the consolidation of learned skills in different and increasingly problem-based contexts. While this course was initially developed to address an identified deficiency in foundational practical laboratory skills amongst second and third year students, Giovanna’s meta goals as an educator have been to: engage students in order to enhance their learning; address the relevant science threshold learning outcomes; and align student learning with professional needs and standards to enhance employability.
Giovanna’s work has been recognised by teaching awards including GU Faculty of Science Learning and Teaching citations in 2007 and 2011, a GU Science Teaching award in 2013, and recently an Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) Australian Award for University Teaching in 2014. More recently, Biotechniques Laboratory was included in an articulation degree program with Nanjing University, China.
Giovanna publishes in both areas of research and her scholarly work has been featured in two invited peer-reviewed papers in international journals. She is also a team member of the Australian MathBench project, which was funded in 2013 through an OLT Innovation and Development grant to support the improvement of quantitative skills of undergraduate science students.