Nirma Samarawickrema

Nirma Samarawickrema is a Senior Lecturer and specialises in the design and development of authentic and innovative small group activities. Her main focus is in embedding research in curricula and designing inquiry-oriented course material. She has extensive experience in teaching first and second year undergraduates reading for the MBBS, Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences and Bachelor of Science degrees. Nirma researches in areas of SoTL as well as prevention and management of human papillomavirus infections. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia. Tel.: +61-3-9902 0295; fax: +61-3-9902 9500. Email address:

On BeJLT by Nirma Samarawickrema:


Inspiring student and teacher through research-led teaching; a pilot study

This is a pilot study demonstrating the beneficial relationship of the teaching-research nexus through integration of the teacher’s disciplinary research on human papillomavirus and cervical cancer into the second year undergraduate medical curriculum. Students were required to research the literature on specified themes of the topic through Student Project Cases (SPCs) designed as part of the curriculum to involve them in inquiry-based, active learning. Students worked in small groups to respond to specified topic objectives through the production of both written reports and oral presentations. Questionnaires and focus group interviews examined students’ understanding of research, their knowledge of this particular SPC topic and the impact of research on their attitude to learning. Our findings indicated that students had variable understanding of research and knowledge of the topic prior to engaging in the SPC activity. Student feedback also showed an overall positive effect research had on their attitudes to learning and their engagement with the topic. Student feedback was inspiring to the teacher providing new research directions. These findings suggest the value of exploring and introducing learning designs that have their basis within the teaching-research nexus and more importantly that students play an important role as partners of the nexus.

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Posted in Research Article

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