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In the spotlight: lecturer Tara Smith

Thursday, 05 May 2011

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Human Resource Management lecturer Tara Smith, from the School of Management, is one of six ECU staff members to win a 2011 Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Here, she shares her teaching journey.

“I have been a Lecturer at ECU since 2002, and I still really enjoy it. Every class, every group of students is different, and this is my challenge: to find ways to engage, encourage and motivate all my students to value Human Resource Management (HRM) as an important factor in obtaining and retaining business success.

“After nearly 10 years I remain passionate. I really believe in the benefits of good HRM practices and helping others to discover its importance is what makes my job so special.

“To achieve this, I work hard at building relationships with my students, not just during their time at ECU but also as they begin to develop careers as HRM professionals. I keep in contact with many of my former students, and provide mentoring and coaching as needed. It is always great to hear from our graduates, and when they let me know how their careers have taken off since they completed their postgraduate qualification, I really feel proud.

“Being a lecturer at ECU I know I can make a positive difference to people’s lives.”

In addition to teaching, Ms Smith is currently completing her PhD, which is part of an Australian Research Council (ARC) project that investigates small business owner-managers’ participation in online learning. As part of the research work for her thesis, she set up an online ‘self-help’ forum and invited small business owner-managers to participate, while providing them with guided support.

The online forum provided Ms Smith with insight into the motivation for the owner-managers’ participation, and the barriers to participation. Once her findings are complete, she will be converting parts of her thesis, along with related conference presentations, into publications.

Working with her School of Management colleagues Professor Rowena Barrett, Professor Craig Standing and Dr Denise Gengatharen, Ms Smith is also using this PhD learning to support an action research project, which examines participation in an online learning forum and the sharing and spreading of knowledge.

Professor Rowena Barrett, Head of School of Management, praises Ms Smith’s role in the School.

“I see evidence of research-informed and practice-oriented teaching in her work. She is an active and committed organisational citizen and plays a key role in the School, helping to build online skills and share her broad knowledge,” she said.

Ms Smith currently teaches Human Resource Management, Workplace Learning, Workplace Training and Development, and Managing Employee Performance.

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