Dr Brian Grills

Senior Lecturer in Pathophysiology and Honours Coordinator in the Department of Human Biosciences

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How does a lecturer keep students engaged when classes are not only large but operating across multiple campuses? In teaching pathophysiology in popular La Trobe courses such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, orthopics, prosthetics and orthoptics, health sciences and nutrition, Dr Brian Grills has come up with a number of creative answers to this question.

A traditional lecture would see students simply listening and taking notes, however Brian has changed this model to make sure his lecture/workshops involve a high level of interaction. Students will often work in groups to investigate disease and injury scenarios, then answer questions on these throughout the lecture/workshop.

Each group delivers their answers via a remote ‘clicker,’ and this allows Brian to monitor understanding and feature the top groups. A video link-up means that students at La Trobe’s Bendigo campus can also participate and deliver their own answers in real time.   

Brian has also created a series of online tests that he regularly uses to track student progress. These purely visual tests use pathological images from lectures and tutorials, and students often mention these tests as a factor that reinforced their understanding as they studied.

Brian explains that students enjoy pathophysiology because it is such a relatable subject – everyone has come into contact with injury or illness in their lifetime. His own research into tissue healing, bone metabolism and bone disease is often used to support lecture material, bringing students into contact with up-to-date, real-world case studies.

Brian has been with La Trobe for 23 years, and has taught approximately 15,000 students in that time. He has also supervised more than 25 Honours students and 10 postgraduate (MSc/Phd) students alongside his teaching and research commitments. In 2011, his efforts were recognised with a citation from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council.

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