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Students in lecture theatre

Inspirational teachers: the secret to winning at uni

Study tips
Published 15 Aug, 2022  ·  3-minute read

So, what’s the secret to success at uni? Well, a lot of it comes down to having the right teachers.

A good teacher helps you to find the right answers. But a great teacher inspires you to ask a million more questions and sparks a relentless pursuit of knowledge.

At UQ, our teachers and academics are at the forefront of their respective industries, working to solve tomorrow's problems today. This is why our students graduate with the skills, mindset and practical experience to own the unknown right now – not just "someday". 

Here are the signs that you're learning from a great teacher.

They go above and beyond

Dr Chris Rinke leans against a sandstone building in UQ St Lucia's Great Court with green hedges in the background

Great teachers thrive on seeing their students succeed, which is why they often go the extra mile to impart knowledge or help students overcome obstacles. 

When he's not researching superworms to see how they could solve the plastic crisis, Dr Chris Rinke works as one of these above-and-beyond teachers. His genuine passion for all things microbiology is infectious, making it easy for students to engage in his lectures. He particularly loves sharing his fascination of microbes and the role they played in Earth's history.

"My favourite thing about teaching is that students learn new pieces of knowledge and they get really excited about this – something they didn’t know – and then they want to dig deeper and learn more about it."

- Dr Chris Rinke

Meet Chris

They don’t know all the answers

Dr Sebastian Kaempf leans against a fire hydrant in UQ's Great Court, with sandstone pillars in background

Our tutors and lecturers don’t just consider themselves teachers – they’re lifelong learners. They don’t know all the answers, but they’ll help you ask the right questions until you find them together.

Dr Sebastian Kaempf, a Senior Lecturer in Peace and Conflict Studies, is constantly discovering new things about humanity and jumping to the next big question. And he encourages this curiosity-driven approach to learning in his students. After all, asking the right questions is essential for getting the right answers – and asking no questions is a sure way to get no answers.

If you’re ever unsure about something, speak up. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. In fact, great teachers like Sebastian encourage it.

"Just because something is written in a book by a very famous person doesn’t mean that they’re right."

- Dr Sebastian Kaempf

Meet Sebastian

They walk the talk

Lecturer Sean Peel and student Maddison Pledger-Dunn walk the sandstone halls of UQ

For UQ educators, the course subject isn’t just what they teach – it’s what they do.

Take Dr Sean Peel, for example. He's a lecturer for UQ's Bachelor of Design, dedicated to helping students design modern solutions for modern problems.

In his own time, Sean puts his own theory into practice. He's already worked on some incredible and life-changing projects in the medicine and healthcare space. His current project aims to improve the patient experience for people using an artificial heart in place of an organ transplant. 

“By speaking to patients about their emotional reactions to the devices at a granular level, we are finding promising new routes to making their journey less disruptive.”

- Dr Sean Peel

Meet Sean

They focus on what matters

Marnee Shay stands in front of Aboriginal artwork by Aunty Denis Proud

Marnee pictured in front of art by Aunty Denise Proud, which is the cover art on the book Marnee edited with Rhonda Oliver, ‘Indigenous Education in Australia: Learning and Teaching Deadly Futures’.

Don’t lose sight of what really matters. Grades, assignments and exams are important, but so is learning about things you genuinely love.

While she currently does more research than teaching herself, Dr Marnee Shay has always had a knack for keeping what truly matters in focus. Her research looks into how teachers – and education systems in general – can better serve students who are considered at risk or disengaged. So, yes, she's a great teacher teaching other teachers to be great teachers. (Say that 5 times fast.)

Some people get to class early because they don’t want to miss a thing. Others get there early so they can grab a seat in the back corner and hope they don’t get asked any questions. Having a great teacher who inspires your love of learning is usually what makes the difference, and academics like Marnee are helping future teachers achieve this for all students. 

“It’s pretty well known the influence and impact that teachers can have on the students and their life decisions, and paths through life, and to me, that’s a real honour and a real privilege."

- Dr Marnee Shay

Meet Marnee

UQ is full of teachers, academics and students who are owning the unknown now. Meet some other inspiring teachers.

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