Isabella Dobrescu

Associate Professor Isabella Dobrescu has excelled in the Education space at all levels, from her performance in the classroom to her role in designing and modernising courses across a variety of subjects and her award winning work in the sphere of technology enabled teaching innovations.

Together with Alberto Motta, Isabella is currently working on creating the world’s first MIICs – Massive Immersive Interactive Courses. It all started with Playconomics, a videogame that proved to be a game changer in teaching first year Economics. Today Playconomics has become an award-winning experiential learning platform used to design courses that teach Medicine, Engineering and Business all across Australia. 

The heart of everything she does in the education space, however, remains research. She is currently conducting several evaluation studies on 'what works' in education, providing insights into ways to address the challenges of modern higher education.

Isabella served as Deputy Director of the Scientia Education Academy (July 2019 - July 2021) and is the current co-chair of the STEP UP initiative in Education.

  • (Step Up 1A) Can rank feedback avoid demoralization? A randomized controlled trial [with Motta, Chen and Foster]
  • (Step Up 2A) Fun: A complement or a substitute in the education production function? [with Motta, French, Holden and Lim]
  • (Step Up 3A) The role of verifiability in the education production function [with Motta and Kazmierczak]
  • (Step Up 4B) The symbolic power of female leadership: Lessons from a randomized experiment [with Motta and Shanker]
  • (Step Up 5A) Wisdom of the crowds: Does it work in higher education? [with Motta]
  • Culturally and context specific student assessment [with Holden, Motta, Piccoli, Roberts & Walker]
  • Relative performance feedback in education: Evidence from a randomized controlled trial (2021) forthcoming Economic Journal [with Faravelli, Megalokonomou and Motta] 
  • The Predictive Power of Big Data in Education: A Machine Learning Approach (forthcoming) in Mendolia, O'Brien, Yerokhin and Paloyo (eds): Critical Perspectives on Economics of Education and Education Policy. Routledge [with Motta and Scriven] 
  • 2019 UNSW President’s Award for ‘Building Collaborations’
  • 2017 UNSW Scientia Education Fellowship
  • 2017 Wharton Business School Social Sciences Gold Medal Reimagine Education International Awards
  • 2016 Australian Government Office of Learning & Teaching Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning
  • 2016 UNSW Business School John Prescott Outstanding Innovation Award
  • 2013 UNSW Business School 2013 Outstanding Technology-Enabled Teaching Innovation Award
  • 2013 University of New South Wales Innovation Award (top 3 finalist)
  • 2013 University of New South Wales Vice-Chancellor Award for Excellence in the Use of Learning & Teaching Technologies
  • 2013 University of New South Wales Heinz Harant Award for Teaching Innovation

School level contributions

  • Co-Chair of the School of Economics Student Experience, Engagement & Recruitment (SEER) Committee (2020 – present)
  • Chair of the School of Economics “MyExperience” Student Evaluation Review Committee, UNSW (2017)
  • Member of the School of Economics Tenure/Promotion Committee, UNSW (2011 – present)
  • Member of the School of Economics Learning & Teaching Committee, UNSW (2014 – present)

Faculty level contributions

  • Member of the BCom Faculty Review Steering Committee, UNSW Business School (2020 – present)
  • Elected member of the UNSW Business School Faculty Board, UNSW (2019 – 2020)
  • Member of the UNSW Business School Educational Excellence Awards Committee, UNSW (2017, 2019)

UNSW level contributions

  • Deputy Director of the UNSW Scientia Education Academy (2019 – 2021)
  • Fellow of the UNSW Scientia Education Academy (2017 – present)
  • Member of the President's Awards for Education Excellence, UNSW (2016)
  • Member of the President's Awards for Building Collaboration Committee, UNSW (2018)