‘The best teacher I’ve ever had’: Economics lecturer wins student award
20 May 2022
Economics lectures are not generally associated with Squid Game, K-Pop clips, and references to The Office and The Big Bang Theory.
But then, economics lecturers don’t normally sport mohawks and band T-shirts either.
Associate Professor Wayne Geerling is one Monash Business School lecturer on a mission to make learning economics a memorable classroom experience.
“To be blunt, economics has a reputation for being a bit boring,” he says. “I try to overcome that stereotype, and show students that it’s actually interesting and relevant to their everyday life.”
If you think that sounds like a tall order, you’ve obviously never experienced one of his classes.
Just ask his students, who have named him this year’s recipient of the Monash Student Association (MSA) Teaching Excellence Award for the Faculty of Business and Economics.
The awards recognise academic staff who have provided outstanding teaching and created a better learning experience for students.
“It’s always nice to be recognised by your peers, colleagues and the university,” A/Prof Geerling said.
“But I love teaching and I take it very seriously, so to know that my students recognise and appreciate that, well, it means a lot to me, actually.”
In a competitive field, Associate Professor Geerling was singled out by his students, not only for his unique style and infectious enthusiasm, but for going above and beyond to keep students engaged during the pandemic.
“When COVID-19 hit, we went from resident learning to an online classroom in a matter of weeks, and lecturers had to adjust the way they taught,” A/Prof Geerling said. “It was a tough time for everyone – we were all learning along the way.”
A firm believer that engagement is the key to learning success, Associate Professor Geerling knew he had to pull out all stops to make sure his students stayed tuned in during remote learning.
He did this by hosting online social events, trivia and games nights and introducing study buddy programs, among other initiatives.
“I think it’s really important for students to create those social connections, which don’t happen naturally online,” he said.
“A lot of what I was doing was overcompensating and trying to make their classroom experience as normal as possible.”
The accolades from students who nominated Associate Professor Geerling for the award speak volumes of his ability to connect and inspire.
One student wrote: “Wayne is undoubtedly the best teacher I’ve ever had the pleasure of learning under. He understands how to relate and respond to students and is also able to adapt to the lockdown situation extremely well when compared to lots of other teachers. Wayne deserves the award every year from what I’ve heard other students say.”
Another wrote: “As a first-year student, economics quickly became my favourite unit to study due to the delivery of the lectures, the frequent use of pop culture media as examples of economic principles and the use of interactive quizzes (Kahoot and InQuizitive). He has always been very kind and supportive in correspondence and seems to really care about teaching.”
For Associate Professor Geerling, that is ‘mission accomplished’.
Read more about A/Prof Geerling’s teaching approaches in Impact.