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Dr Michelle Eady
School of Education

Creating unique and meaningful ways to engage UOW students and the community

Dr Michelle Eady does not just believe there is no substitute for meaningful, relevant and engaging learning experiences for students of all ages; she goes out of her way to create such educational opportunities, in and out of traditional classroom environments.

Project DARE: Dementia knowledge, Art, Research and Education is a perfect example of this.

The senior lecturer was a key member of an interdisciplinary team that developed and piloted Project DARE, which used art to help children express their knowledge and understanding of dementia, a degenerative condition that children are more and more likely to encounter as the population ages.

The project first ran at a local public school and involved artists who helped the children advance their creative skills as well as develop ability for personal expression. It has since been run in a primary school in Aberdeen, Scotland.

The project, which collaborated with early education organisation Big Fat Smile, was designed to take advantage of existing resources – people, skills and programs – within the community. It is a strategy that Dr Eady likes to implement wherever possible.

“My life’s work is about trying to make a difference in society and making life better for people,” the Canadian-born academic says.

Workplace Integrated Learning is another teaching strategy advocated by Dr Eady. She works hard to provide mediated instruction experiences for her undergraduate students and coordinates three large subjects that collaborate with more than 20 local primary schools to provide these authentic learning experiences.

Dr Eady is also nurturing work-ready graduates in her role as an advisory committee member for the UOW Workplace Integrated Learning initiative, which supports the University’s efforts to connect with external partners and to give students the opportunity to gain practical experience throughout their degree.

“Our school and community partners hold the key to extensive opportunities for our education students to connect to a wealth of expertise and experience,” Dr Eady says.

“I’ll continue to strive to make those connections a reality and extend them across different degree programs.”

Her next pursuit is Project ADVOCATE, inspired by research of team member Kelly Lewer about students who attend university after periods of domestic violence. The project is aiming to improve the quality of services and support provided to students who have experienced domestic violence by ensuring staff are better prepared to help such students.

The project has received funding from the UOW Community Engagement Grants Scheme and will involve a multidisciplinary team of academics from UOW, the University of Newcastle, and the University of NSW, and partners such as Domestic Violence New South Wales and Women’s Health New South Wales.

In keeping with her previous projects, this project will have a direct benefit for students and stays true to her passion of “finding evidence through meaningful research and authentic experiences to help to develop the best educators possible”.