Dr Valerie Sotardi
Dr Valerie Sotardi
Educational Studies and Human Development
Valerie is a highly regarded, dedicated teacher whose passion for teaching is clearly evident to students and colleagues alike. She has made a significant impact on student learning through her innovative and caring approach to her teaching both in the physical and virtual classrooms. Her holistic approach is supportive of students both academically and personally and she espouses the values of whanaungatanga.
She says she believes knowledge and mastery of skills depend on the learning environment, so her focus is on creating a learning environment based on a clear, consistent structure and a warmth through challenge and support which leads learners to academic success. She produces short videos for students on course tasks and advice on academic and professional skills. She also pays careful attention to course design and always seeks student feedback and monitors her student outcomes which actively changes her delivery to her next class. She says that good teaching demands equitable experiences for students which is reflected in the work she has completed with LGBTQ+ and disabled students.
Engaging and motivating students in large first year courses and in both face to face and distance modes marks Valerie out as an exceptional teacher. This skill has been acknowledged by students through her UCSA teacher of the year awards and by feedback such as “she is so welcoming of everyone’s ideas which made me as a student feel valued and important within the classroom.” She was able to share her knowledge, experience and resources for teaching students at a distance with a wide group of colleagues during the enforced period of teaching online due to the pandemic.
Valerie actively contributes her knowledge and experiences across UC where she contributes to supporting student retention and wellbeing in her research and also through her practice and advice.
Her research on assessment anxiety in first year students and evidence-based resources have reached a global audience. For the past two years she has taught a session to Product Design students and is a key member of a national externally funded research project with the School of Law aimed at identifying wellbeing and learning experiences of Law students.