Stefanie Obermüller receives the University’s Teaching and Learning Prize 2022
Stefanie Obermüller, Senior Lecturer in Human Biomedicine, thinks that feeling safe and having a clear road ahead are important aspects of motivating students. Her modesty and understandable approach are the reasons for her winning the University’s Teaching and Learning Prize 2022.
“It feels great to have won the Teaching and Learning Prize. Thank you to everyone who nominated me! It’s very motivating and makes me feel like I am on the right path”, Stefanie Obermüller says.
Stefanie Obermüller is a Senior Lecturer at the School for Health and Welfare and teaches anatomy and physiology to the nursing students at Campus Varberg and Halmstad University.
“It’s an undergraduate level course about understanding the human body. We begin with the cells, go through all the organ systems, and shine a light on how these interact. We also look at microorganisms, and how these work together with the body – sometimes they cause illnesses and sometimes they are very beneficial. So there are a lot of exciting topics to go through.”
A safe space and a visualised road
The course is very extensive, and at the same time they only have ten weeks to go through everything. Stefanie Obermüller thinks that there are a few things a teacher should think about when teaching a demanding theoretical course, in order to make the students think that it is exciting and doable.
“One thing is constructive alignment – showing the students concrete steps on the road towards the goal. You kind of have to be able to visualise the road ahead to not end up in a ditch. This makes the students trust their own resources and feel that they will be able to pass the course.”
“You kind of have to be able to visualise the road ahead to not end up in a ditch. This makes the students trust their own resources and feel that they will be able to pass the course.”
Stefanie Obermüller, Senior Lecturer in Human Biomedicine
Stefanie Obermüller also thinks that it is important that the students feel safe – that they can get help and that they are welcome to show up just the way they are. She mentions the term “a safe space”, which she learnt about practicing yoga.
“If the students reach out and say they need a break, I tell them that there are retakes, and that it’s possible to take the course again.”
Explaining in a way that makes people understand
The nurse’s role is very broad, which demands many different skill sets, and that is the biggest challenge for the students. In the course, they work with examples taken from real life situations.
“We always want to connect the course to everyday work life. The students take this course during their first term, before they have their clinical placement, so a big challenge is to get them to understand the term care.”
Stefanie Obermüller emphasises the importance of a good teaching method.
“I think of my own time in school, and a math teacher who still is my role model. He explained in such a clear way that you had to understand, and only when you did, he would continue and build on that knowledge. It was magical.”
Another method to help the students follow along in class are digital tools.
“The students say that it helps when my colleagues and I have recorded short videos. Then they can pause, replay difficult parts again and listen to them at their own pace.”
About Stefanie Obermüller
Stefanie Obermüller was born and raised in Germany. As a child, she discovered that she liked chemistry, and this interest remained. Venturing into higher education, she first studied chemistry and biochemistry at Freie University in Berlin, before she received a medicinal research doctoral degree from Göttingen University.
After her doctoral studies, Stefanie Obermüller wanted to experience something completely new, but it was a coincidence that she ended up in Sweden.
“A friend of mine was working at Lund University and said: ‘Come here, we need someone who knows what you know.’ My first thought was: ‘Sweden? No, it’s cold there and rains a lot.’ But when I travelled to Lund to visit it felt like coming home. The work environment there was very appealing, and I had never experienced teamwork like that before.”
Up until that time, she had only done research at a micro level, but now she wanted to see biochemistry from a holistic perspective. In Lund, she researched diabetes type 2 for six years.
“Ending up in Varberg later on was also a coincidence, since I met my future husband who was living there. Approximately at the same time, my boss was offered a new job, and my options were more or less to go with them or leave Lund.”
When Stefanie Obermüller moved to Varberg, she was pregnant and decided to take a break from her research and instead focus on her family, until a year or so later when a friend gave her a tip about the job at Halmstad University.
“After all my years in this environment, it suits me very well. I have never regretted it.”
Stefanie Obermüller is pedagogically skilled and knowledgeable within her subject area. Her clear and inspiring pedagogy meets the students’ different needs and stimulate their learning, and she shows patience, thoroughness and humility.
Stefanie Obermüller is described as a very well-organised teacher who is willing to go that extra mile to create the prerequisites for learning. Students attest to Stefanie Obermüller inspiring subject didactical understanding and knowledge by using different types of digital and analogue tools and materials. Her clear and creative videos and presentations are mentioned as good examples.
She is a very inspiring and engaging teacher who encourages, motivates and supports all students in order to make them understand the subject. She awakens an interest in, and a passion for, anatomy and physiology, making the students want to learn more. Her willingness to continuously develop her teaching contributes to subject didactical development and immersion, and she is a mentor who gives feedback in a good and empathic manner. That is why Halmstad University happily and proudly awards Stefanie Obermüller with the Teaching and Learning Prize 2022.
The Teaching and Learning Prize
Halmstad University has been awarding teachers with the Teaching and Learning Prize since 2007. The award is given to a teacher who is especially successful in developing students’ learning. The winner receives an artisan glass apple, a diploma and the opportunity to take part in a European higher education pedagogical conference of their own choosing.
Staff and students can nominate teachers. A committee that is coordinated by the Centre for Educational Development (HPC) and is made up of excellent teachers prepares candidates for the prize-winner. The committee also consists of an external person knowledgeable about higher education pedagogy. After this, the winner is appointed by the deputy vice-chancellor with responsibility for education, quality and sustainability.