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Expert Learning Adviser

​Holland Park High's Expert Learning Adviser: Professor Barbara Oakley

​Holland Park State High School is proud to introduce its new Expert Learning Adviser Professor Barbara Oakley, Professor of Engineering at the Oakland University, Michigan. Barbara's learning journey saw her specialise in her passion for languages (Russian) and work in Antarctica, before returning to the US and deciding on a career change into engineering! In the process she had to learn subjects she found difficult at school and master them, like Maths. She also learned a lot about learning, and now works in collaboration with neuroscientist Professor Terry Sejnowski. 

Barbara teaches Engineering, when she's home, and travels the world sharing her insights into learning (backed by her absolute insistence on solid research evidence). Barbara has successfully written several books including Learning How to Learn: How to Succeed in School Without Spending All Your Time Studying; A Guide for Kids and Teens. Holland Park looks forward to working in collaboration with Barbara to enhance academic learning and opportunities.

More information regarding her learning materials and courses can be found here.


  • Ph.D. in Systems Engineering at Oakland University.
  • Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Oakland University, 1995.
  • Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, University of Washington, 1986. GPA
  • Bachelor of Arts in Slavic Languages and Literature, University of Washington, l977.
  • United States Army Signal Officer Course, Fort Gordon, Georgia, 1977.
  • Defence Language Institute, Monterey, California, 1974-1975.


Awards and Honours

  • Inaugural “Innovation Instructor,” Coursera (2015)
  • American Society of Engineering Education Chester F. Carlson Award for outstanding technical innovation in the field of engineering education (2015)
  • American Society of Engineering Education Theo C. Pilkington Award for outstanding educator in advancing the field of bioengineering (2015)
  • Oakland University Teaching Excellence Award, 2013
  • Nautilus Award for the book Practicing Sustainability, 2013.
  • Fellow, American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers, 2009.
  • Fellow, World Academy of Art and Science, 2009.
  • Naim and Ferial Kheir Teaching Award, 2002.
  • John D. and Dortha J. Withrow Teaching Award, 2001.
  • National Science Foundation New Century Scholar, 1999.
  • National Science Foundation New Faculty Fellow, 1998.
  • Antarctic Services Medal, National Science Foundation, 1984.
  • Distinguished Military Scholar and Graduate, U.S. Army, 1977.
  • Graduation with Distinction in Slavic Languages and Literature, University of Washington, 1977.
  • Association of the United States Army Award, 1976.
  • All-Army In-Service ROTC Scholarship, U.S. Army, 1975.