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How To Use The UC Book In Your Teaching

Video Message from Prof Nick Klomp – UC Book 2014, Room

In the video above, Prof Nick Klomp, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at the University of Canberra discusses the new UC “Book of the Year” 2014, Room, as well as how teaching staff have embedded the previous UC Book into their units and lectures.

How Jasper Jones was included in teaching

During the first year of the UC Book Project, University of Canberra staff used the book in a variety of ways, imbedding the novel and it's themes into their curriculum, receiving extremely positive feedback from their students.

Here are a few examples of how they managed to do this, across a diverse range of subjects:

Government-Business Relations

Staff incorporated the UC Book (Jasper Jones) into an assessment item during Semester 1, 2013 and found that students were quite enthusiastic about studying the book within the context of government-business relations, drawing on the theme of discrimination, which is prevalent throughout the book.

Staff commented: “Many of the students recommended that their peers also read the book after the enjoyable experience. Overall…it was a great success and something that we will consider continuing to incorporate in future semesters”. Michael de Percy.

Video Message from Dr Michael de Percy – UC Book 2014, Room

In the video below, Dr Michael de Percy, Lecturer at the University of Canberra discusses how he has used the UC “Book of the Year” within his teaching and how his students have responded.

Advocacy For Change

“I had a great time using Jasper Jones with my students in the unit Advocacy for Change.

We had 180 students mostly from education but also arts, psychology, planning and international relations. All the tutors had a set of discussion questions that generated lots of dialogue, some quite polarised between those who loved the novel and those who did not. We set aside one tutorial for discussing the novel.”

The class covered a range of topics including story, plot, the setting in relation to what was happening in Australia at the time, the main characters, the main themes addressed in the novel- e.g. Moral duality (right and wrong), racism, bullying, law and justice and how do these themes related to the unit. We had lively discussions and were able to consider the book in relation to the subject of advocacy and social change. Can't wait for the next novel to be announced". - Katja Mikhailovich

Public Health Systems And Policy 2

“I did use it as a general icebreaker and discussion starter in Public Health Systems And Policy 2 8573 in Semester 1.

I played the first 20 mins of the recording read by Humphrey Bower and urged the students to read the book. Not many of them had done so at that stage. We discussed in broad terms, the public health issues facing teenagers growing up in Australia; self-esteem; community support; Aboriginality; living in rural towns. It was a neat refresher for this group on the social determinants of health. Had I not been giving the game away, I could have mentioned mental health and suicide; peer pressure; sexual identity; incest; smoking; alcohol and a host of other issues relevant to public health.

I am now teaching the first year unit and have not used Jasper yet, but hope to make a tutorial exercise around this work in just after the student presentations on determinants of health and public health issues - so around Week 9 (2013). It is a great book and a great concept to have a book of the year”. – Joan Corbett, Unit Convenor

Academic English

“I dare to suggest that I could have come close to predicting final student grades for the unit Academic English from the level of engagement with Jasper Jones during the first 4 weeks of Semester 1.

However, unanticipated (although not really surprising) was the observation (not scientific result) that there seems to be some correlation between the unit final results and a student's engagement with Jasper Jones. The unit…is not bound by content in quite the same way mainstream subjects are.  Therefore, as I have students from most faculties, I try to make the development of critical thinking and the clear and logical expression of that thinking pivotal in my class work through the semester. This seems to be the most obvious common developmental need amongst today’s students, regardless of faculty. While I know it’s important to evaluate the book selection itself, my thinking is that the book project provides an excellent opportunity for researchers to consider such keys to academic success as the development of critical thinking skills and attitudes and motivation to learning. - Beth Barber, Lecturer of Academic English.

Cultural Research

I mentioned it in my Cultural Research lectures, encouraged students to claim their copy. I also participated in the Paul Magee readings - had a captive audience while students were lined up waiting in student admin”. - Dr Sandra Burr, Adjunct Associate, Faculty of Arts & Design.


Stage Adaptation of Room: Invitation For Staff To Engage

In 2014 there is a plan to undertake a substantial cross-disciplinary teaching, learning and research project built around a theatrical adaptation of the UC Book of the Year, Room by Emma Donoghue. This presents numerous potential opportunities for engagement of both staff and students.

For further information and how to get involved, visit here or contact Dr Peter Copeman, Academic Skills Centre on ext. 2166.

- Read the feedback from previous commencing students, or add your own thoughts and comments at Join The Conversation here.

- Write to us. We would also love to hear what you are doing this year to incorporate the UC Book of the Year 2014, Room into your teaching. Email