A Hat-Trick for the Department of Physiology

Posted on April 19, 2022

The Department of Physiology was the proud home of three Teaching and Learning Awards in the Faculty of Health Sciences, in 2021. Dr Mia van Rooy won first place in the emerging category and Dr Yvette Hlophe and Mrs Tanya Camacho, placed as first and second runners up, respectively, in the established category. Collectively, these three lectures are passionate and inspired by their students. During the course of a challenging 2021, they extended their teaching and learning practices to ensure that their students [email protected]

Dr Mia van Rooy (winner in the emerging category)


“I believe in a pedagogy of care where I play a crucial role both inside and outside the classroom.  My role as departmental advisor has provided me with a special opportunity to invest in students both academically, and on a more personal level. I am personally invested in the well-being of my students and building confidence that will not only ensure that they are knowledgeable about the subject field, but also in the soft skills that are necessary to navigate a successful career. In an institution where there are thousands of students, it helps to know that someone is invested in your success as a person.”



Dr van Rooy has responsibilities that spans many areas in teaching and learning, including everything from curriculum development and enhancement, to the formulation of educational policies; however, in all these aspects she is committed to ensuring that the students are as well prepared as possible for their prospective careers.

Dr van Rooy aims to use the prize money to attend an international conference, to broaden her exposure to new teaching modalities. This will help her to ensure that her teaching remains as progressive as the current environment. Additionally, she plans to attend a course that will further equip her to best respond to the plight of students from a psychological perspective, specifically related to the effect of trauma (or in our case the COVID-19 pandemic) on learning.

Dr Yvette Hlophe (first runner up in the established category)


 ​My teaching philosophy has four very basic principles. Firstly, clear communication, critical for the transfer of academic knowledge. Secondly, simplicity is key, with the use of good scenarios students can relate the study content to their environment and this helps in knowledge transfer. Thirdly, an understanding of the diverse class-room environment, allows me to create an inclusive space for students from all backgrounds. Finally, kindness/respect, reciprocated between myself and my students, providing a working environment in which students and lecturer can flourish.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

In terms of career development, Dr Hlophe wants to invest any available time and resources in curriculum development. She believes that the educational system of an institution is upheld by the established curriculum and how well it reflects on the progressive needs of the society. Bilbao et al., 2008 defined curriculum development as the “heart” of an institution. Dr Hlophe is a member of the MBChB Curriculum Committee tasked to establish a lean, focused, well-integrated, and clinically-relevant curriculum by 2025.

Dr Hlophe was nominated for the TAU Fellowship Programme in support of the University Capacity Development Programme (UCDP), Faculty of Health Sciences for 2022. If successful in this endeavour the programme will provide her with additional teaching, learning and research opportunities related to curriculum development to further contribute to re-modelling of modules in the Human Physiology Department and the faculty.

Mrs Tanya Camacho (second runner up in the established category)

"My teaching philosophy involves developing critical thinkers, encouraging mastery and serving as a mentor to my students. I strive to plant the seed of excellence and service through my teaching. My teaching philosophy is enriched daily through personal reflections of my instructional practices and from what I have learnt from my students. I believe that my philosophy and practices contribute towards the third and fourth Sustainable Development Goals of the country, namely ‘ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages’ and ‘ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all’. I hope that my students graduate knowing their discipline as well as knowing themselves and their capabilities. Moreover, I hope that they are empowered to become leaders in their communities and make a difference in the lives of others. “



Mrs Camacho was actively involved in the curriculum design and development of the BSportSci degree in the Faculty of Health Sciences. She also assisted with the curriculum layout of the current BSc Honours programmes in Biokinetics and Sport Science, respectively.  Currently, Mrs Camacho is assisting with the development of the four-year Biokinetics degree at the University of Pretoria as well as with the design and development of a post-graduate diploma.

Her involvement in curriculum design and her passion for teaching and learning has kindled a keen interest in instructional design - especially in design principles that lend themselves to hybrid teaching and learning. She plans to use her prize money towards a course or workshop on e-learning design principles so that she can enhance her skills in this area of teaching and learning.

- Author Faculty of Health Sciences
Published by Jimmy Masombuka

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