Natalie Courtman receives top veterinary teaching award

Dr Natalie Courtman has been awarded the Veterinarians in Education Research and Academia (VERA) Excellence in Teaching Award, the premier teaching award of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA).

Dr Courtman is Director of the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Clinical Pathology at the Melbourne Veterinary School and a Specialist Veterinary Clinical Pathologist at the U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital.

Dr Natalie Courtman
Dr Natalie Courtman

The award recognises her innovation in development of tools to embed peer feedback in collaborative activities for professional development; her approaches to teaching and support of learning that influence, motivate and inspire students; and her leadership influencing and enhancing learning and teaching and the student experience.

Dr Courtman consistently receives high Quality of Teaching scores from students and collaborated in the development of the current DVM curriculum.

Dr Courtman says students are more inspired to learn when they can see a teacher’s passion for the subject matter and understand lessons within the context of veterinary science and clinical practice.

“Students love examples of how knowledge is applied in a clinical context,” she says.

“When teaching an underpinning concept, I think, how does this concept help a student develop the day-one competencies required of a veterinarian?”

“I also make this overt in my teaching by telling students, you need to understand this concept because this will help you do X when you are practising as a veterinarian.

Dr Courtman also received the Faculty’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2018 for her application of new technology, peer feedback and two-way communication into pathology teaching in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM).

She says tools like these help educators understand areas where students need assistance, in real time.

“Using clinical examples with an audience-response technology, such as Polleverywhere, is very powerful in gauging student understanding and helping students immediately integrate and apply their knowledge,” Dr Courtman says.

“Use of this tool for real-time feedback at the conclusion of each key concept helps me identify when key concepts need to be further discussed before moving on….and the students love it.”

The Excellence in Teaching Award recognises quality teaching practice and outstanding contributions to student learning in veterinary sciences, para-veterinary or animal sciences programs. Past recipients from the Melbourne Veterinary School include Dr Stuart Barber, Senior Lecturer in Intensive Animal Management and Welfare, in 2009.

Banner image: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine students in a veterinary teaching laboratory at the new Melbourne Veterinary School Learning and Teaching building in Werribee.