Recognising and celebrating our award-winning teachers – and the methods and approaches behind their award-winning practice.

David Orsmond is Professor of Economics in the Macquarie Business School. Before coming to Macquarie, he worked at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, International Monetary Fund and the Reserve Bank of Australia. He joined the University in 2020 in order to impact students’ learning of the core ideas of economics. In 2022, he won a Vice Chancellor’s Student Nominated Award for his teaching.

David is the best teacher I ever met. I’m absolutely loving every lecture and tutorial with him, swimming in a sea of knowledge with him is the most enjoyable thing.

Macquarie student

David hooks his students onto Economics by looking at the impact it has on their own lives. He enthusiastically dispels myths that the subject matter is “all maths-based” or “too difficult” by demonstrating how everyone already uses economic decision-making processes, quickly, transforming large cohort of first-year undergraduates into engaged and motivated learners.

His ability to make complex material accessible and to equip students with sought-after job skills is backed by student testimonies.

David’s enthusiasm for economics and his style was the one thing that kept everyone engaged and made the unit interesting. His strong industry experience really enhances the quality of the lectures.

Macquarie student

Your application discussed how you teach using concentric teaching methods embedded with learning ‘hooks’ and reflective techniques. Can you tell us a little more about these approaches? 

Teaching is like art. We try to create a canvas that engages students in an accessible and compelling narrative, illustrates its relevance to their lives, passes on knowledge, and strengthens their critical thinking, teamwork and communication skills. This is quite a task.

While lecturers come to this challenge in different ways, for me the trick is to ground new concepts and models in ways that can immediately provide insight for students on the issues they most care about. In doing so, I constantly come back to the core of the framework I’m trying to build, so students can add further complexity to the material they are already comfortable about.

I have appreciated this unit due to the way we were taught to think critically about the economy, policies and frameworks. This unit has taught more than just content or facts but has built a robust way of thinking and analysing.

Macquarie student

For instance, after presenting the supply and demand model, I ask students to analyse what happens if there is no price response to a change in demand, such as during the toilet paper shambles in early 2020. And I require students to first outline how they are using a model to structure their thinking on contemporary issues before discussing their answer.

Use of student-focused activities is essential within this approach. Students don’t come to a class as a blank sheet of paper, ready for the lecturer to simply write in the model of the day. Rather, they have pre-formed ideas, only some of which are on the right track. Students need to confront these prior ideas with the new perspectives presented. I find the best way to do this is to have them actively discuss and defend their ideas with each other in the class. What works well is to set an open-ended question in a weekly Discussion Forum – which I use in every class I teach, from the undergraduate to the MBA units – to provide a structured approach for these types of pedagogical interactions and learnings. According to my evaluations, students really like those discussions!

I’ve found your structuring and general explanation so in depth, but simple to comprehend and structured at the same time. As I wrote my discussion forum for this week, I could feel your simple, but detailed explanations of key topics coming through in my writing/thinking. When I realised this was happening, I thought I should extend a simple message of thanks

Macquarie student

You’ve developed a number of career resources for students in economics. Which of those resources do you think have been the most useful? 

As we travel through our careers, we underappreciate the lessons and insights we have picked up through experience. By definition, young students don’t have access to that understanding. This creates a great opportunity for us to provide a public good, assembling high-value information and insights for students based on our experiences at a pretty low cost to ourselves.

Most academics do this through ad hoc advice to students on their careers. I’ve tried to provide some structure to that, developing resources that outline various economics job paths, and posting them to Course Compass.

I’ve also taped a video on how to craft a CV, cover letter and succeed in an interview, based on the 100s I’ve led in my industry career, which students have found helpful. In the department we are now preparing a list of the main internship opportunities and economics employers, and importantly when the application dates close (students don’t realise that can be one year in advance!).

I have also provided support to the MQ Economics Society (MUES) that was established as a student initiative last year. Students have a hunger to hear about current developments and to make industry contacts, needs that we can help to fill. I was especially pleased that some students nominated me for the VC L&T Award based on those efforts.

More generally, we are ambassadors for our disciplines and the literature shows that students are most engaged when academics are passionate about what we do. I enjoy speaking with prospective students through school talks, Open Days and so forth, showing them the types of exciting career paths available, how ideas and personal effort can affect the world around us, and by implication the opportunity for them to do the same as the baton hands to the next generation over time.

It was a tricky topic conceptually but was taught in a way that stepped you through logically and clearly. This has been my favourite unit in the MBA.

Macquarie student

Interested in applying for a Vice-Chancellor’s Learning and Teaching Award in 2023?

Visit our Awards in Teaching webpage for application dates and details.

Acknowledgments: Banner image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay. Photo supplied by David Orsmond. Post compiled and edited by Karina Luzia.

Posted by Teche Editor

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