This week we give a very warm welcome to Penny Van Bergen in her new role as AD L & T in the Faculty of Human Sciences!

We sat down with Penny to get to know her better and to find out more about her initial plans and ideas for learning and teaching in the Faculty.

What were you doing before you took on this role?

Before this I was teaching educational psychology to our pre-service teachers. The unit for which I had primary responsibility was titled ‘The Learner’, and usually had 400-500 students.

What would you highlight as your priorities for the coming months?

First, I’d like to get a sense from staff (and students!) about current L&T challenges and opportunities that should be on my radar but might not be. As a first step for staff, there’s a survey now open where you’re invited to provide your thoughts and ideas on these areas:

Second, I’d like to find new ways of leveraging our collective wisdom in the Faculty. We have the perfect mix of disciplines and people to inform our approach to student learning, student wellbeing, and pedagogy. It makes sense to try and learn from each other and bring insights from our respective disciplines.

Third, I’ll continue the great work Mitch and others have started when framing our broader strategic directions. As part of this I’ll continue working on the Faculty’s Students as Partners initiative, on research engagement opportunities, and more.

As the AD L & T, what do you see as the major challenges for students at university today?

I think time is a huge challenge for students. Students often work long hours, and squeeze in university commitments too. This isn’t ideal, but it’s an enduring problem.

For students who are new to university, or to Sydney more broadly, I think it can also be a challenge to work out what exactly university is about. We help students immensely by setting high expectations, helping them to understand their own learning processes, and helping them to connect with others in the university community.

When you take off your AD L & T hat, what does your down time look like?

A lot of my time is spent chasing a 5-year-old (ha), but for true downtime I like coffee and travel. My claim to fame is having set foot on all 7 continents, although there’s myriad places I haven’t yet been.

Posted by Alex Thackray

One Comment

  1. Enjoy. It’s a wonderful role.


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