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Associate Professor Melissa O'Shea.

15 March 2023

Meet AAUT winner Associate Professor Melissa O’Shea

Associate Professor Melissa O’Shea received a Citation for Australian Awards for University Teaching (AAUT) 2022 Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning for leveraging leadership in clinical psychology to deliver a curriculum that promotes work-ready graduates.

We spoke to Associate Professor O’Shea about the citation, the application process and the importance of reflection as part of teaching practice.

Can you tell us about your AAUT Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning?

My citation reflected work I have done in leading postgraduate clinical psychology programs within the School of Psychology. At Deakin we have a Masters and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, each representing a pathway to practising as a Clinical Psychologist for our graduates. My application spoke to the ways in which I have focussed our curriculum and learning experiences on building the work-readiness of our graduates, including through the development of strong partnerships with mental health services in our community.

I am proud of our whole teaching team and our students who are now highly regarded in the mental health sector. Our industry partners recognise our students as being highly skilled, being able to work effectively in interprofessional teams and to be culturally aware and responsive.

Tell us about yourself and your role at Deakin?

My background is in Clinical Psychology, and previous to moving to Deakin in 2016, I worked in leadership roles within mental health services, mostly in child and youth mental health. I have a strong interest in how universities and health services can work together more strategically to build high quality industry-relevant health training and support mental health care. Currently I am the Course Director of Clinical Psychology postgraduate programs and support the placement partnerships across professional psychology programs.

My research is in the areas of Clinical Psychology Education and Integrative Psychology. I am also a trained yoga teacher and have a strong interest in how yoga can complement psychological therapies to improve outcomes for people struggling from mental health conditions.

How does it feel to have your work recognised? 

I feel fortunate that my role is always rewarding. It is a privilege to support students to build their skills in working with people and ultimately contribute to such an important field. Saying that, it is also very gratifying to be recognised by your peers.

What was the application process like?

The AAUT application process is very well supported. What was particularly useful was the support and input of a mentor who had been recognised by the AAUT previously. This sort of support and input is particularly helpful when you are feeling uncomfortable talking about your achievements! This was also very helpful in clarifying the impact of the work, rather than just describing the work itself.

What advice do you have for staff thinking of applying for an AAUT or another award?

I think the process of reflecting on and documenting your work in teaching and learning is critical to remaining energised and focussed on outcomes that improve student experiences and development.

When this is part of your practice, it also means that you have work to draw on when these sorts of opportunities come along. I feel strongly in the critical place of teaching and learning to university life, and it feels important that this work is recognised alongside research and the other activities that make up the fabric of universities.

You can find a full list of 2022 AAUT winners through the AAUT website.

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