Outstanding tertiary teachers acknowledged

  • Steve Maharey

Prime Minister Helen Clark presented Otago University pathologist Dr Peter Schwartz with the supreme award at the 2003 Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards ceremony at Parliament this evening.

Thirty-four academics from eight tertiary institutions were presented with awards at the ceremony. The awards celebrate excellence in tertiary teaching, promote good teaching practice and enhance career development for tertiary teachers.

Associate Professor of Pathology Dr Peter Schwartz from the University of Otago won the $30,000 supreme award. Awards worth $20,000 were presented for tertiary teachers showing sustained excellence, excellence in collaboration, and excellence in innovation awards. Award winners can use the prize money to enhance their teaching career and promote best practice amongst their colleagues.

Helen Clark said the awards are an important element of the government’s aim to enhance the quality of tertiary education.

“These awards recognise excellence in tertiary teachers and the contribution they are making to New Zealand, and inspire others to lift their own teaching practice.

“Great teachers have an important enabling effect on their students. They convey to them the gift of learning and enable them to continue building their skills across a lifetime. Today New Zealanders must be life-long learners if we are to adapt and embrace the challenges and changes the 21st century brings.

“The group of award winners selected this year are of a very high calibre and highlight the strength of the staff of New Zealand’s tertiary institutions,” Helen Clark said.

Steve Maharey said winners of the inaugural 2002 awards spent the $210,000 they received in prize money last year on equipment, and research, and on attending conferences so that they could enhance their knowledge and find new ways to share it with students.

“As was the case last year a booklet detailing the teaching approaches, experiences and methodologies of tonight’s recipients will be published later this year and distributed widely throughout the tertiary education sector.

“I congratulate the winners and encourage all tertiary staff to emulate their example. These annual awards have become a prestigious addition to the tertiary education calendar and reflect well on both the award winners and their institutions,” Steve Maharey said.

Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award winners

Prime Minister’s Supreme Award

Dr Peter Schwartz
Associate Professor, Department of Pathology, University of Otago

Peter Schwartz has dedicated over thirty years in achieving excellence in medical teaching. This has been achieved through multiple cycles of reflection, innovation, evaluation and development. Peter’s teaching philosophy focuses more on the intellectual and emotional development of the learner. He has regarded this philosophy as the basis to modifying a dominated lecture style to self-instructional units, and then further modification to small group case-based engagement. Peter uses five basic principles - assessment, reflection, co-operative planning and reflective appraisal, research, and passion as tools for developing better practice. Peter’s teaching excellence has been previously recognised as a recipient of the Otago University Medical Students Association three-time winner and the AUT inaugural University Distinguished Teaching awards in 1999.

A fellow colleague, summarises Peter as an excellent tertiary teacher by stating that:
“…he lets the students grow by stimulating critical discussion of challenging problems; he is an excellent creator of resource material, an effective course organiser, a precise evaluator of student performance, a caring and enthusiastic mentor of his colleagues, and …one of the most important assets of the Medical School.”

Peter’s final thoughts in his portfolio highlight a quote from a master teacher Wayne Booth:
Teaching is impossible to master, inexhaustibly varied, unpredictable from hour to hour, from minute to minute within the hour: tears when you don’t expect them, laughter when you might predict tears; cooperation and resistance in baffling mixtures; disconcerting depths of ignorance and sudden unexpected revelations of knowledge or wisdom. And the results are almost always ambiguous. No, it is never boring.

Excellence Awards for Sustained Excellence

Dr Michele Akoorie
Senior Lecturer, Waikato Management School, University of Waikato.

Michèle Akoorie’s teaching abilities have been previously recognised as a recipient of the 2002 Waikato Management School Outstanding Teacher Award and the 2002 Waikato University Vice-Chancellor’s Medal for Excellence in Teaching. She is a profound influence in the discipline of International Business and Management through her contribution in curriculum development. Michèle has pioneered eSupported teaching in respect of communities of learning and interactive virtual classroom experiences. Michèle embraces the philosophy of “Genuine dialogue”, where she imbeds “…the reality and actuality of the lived experience, by linking the abstract concepts to concrete examples, thus enabling the students to ‘see’ through different lenses”.

Dr Christopher Gan
Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics, Lincoln University

Christopher Gan’s teaching style in the fields of Economics and Finance is drawn from his belief that learning is an individualistic process. This is achieved through his objective to challenge and inspire students perception of the subject matter as relevant and applicable through their participation in a financial course that links theoretical concepts with current financial news. Christopher has received an Excellence in Teaching Award in 1997 and a Sustained Excellence in Teaching Award in 2002 from Lincoln University. Christopher’s philosophy for curriculum development and teaching style is governed by his statement that “Rather than passive recipients of information, learning requires active engagement by students, as well as a teacher”.

Associate Professor Steve Jackson
School of Physical Education, University of Otago

Steve Jackson, aka ‘Captain Canada’, has gained legendary status at the University of Otago and beyond. This modest superhero is a teaching tool that plays on Steve’s Canadian origins to encourage student critical thought on what constitutes national identity. Steve endeavours to link teaching, research and experience in order to provide a contemporary, challenging and supportive learning environment within an increasing global context. His particular attention in teaching sociology of sport is given to building relationships, high expectations, co-operation, active learning and respect of diversity. Steve’s teaching ability is summarised by a student that stated,
“It is not sufficient to merely comment on his teaching abilities, he has played a pastoral role, worked tirelessly to provide every research opportunity and continues to shape my own personal and academic development following my graduation from Otago”.

Excellence Awards for Innovation

Dr Pip Lynch
Senior Lecturer, Social Science, Recreation and Tourism Group, Environment, Society and Design Division, Lincoln University

Pip Lynch is the academic co-ordinator of the Bachelor of Recreation Management degree. Her evidence of teaching excellence is based on innovation in practicum, innovation in field trips and the innovation of the Soci 314 Conference. This conference creates a learning experience that doubles as a ‘platform’ from which students launch their professional careers. Fellow colleagues state that Pip “is a force to be reckoned with. She sets high standards and expects both students and colleagues to respond to her expectations”. Pip views teaching as an iterative process where each subject is a ‘conversation’ with students, involving ongoing communication in both directions about subject content and subject methods. Her teaching excellence comes from the fact that she is always looking to make improvements and to try out new, and better, teaching and assessment methods.

Dr Sydney Shep
Senior Lecturer, School of Information Management, Victoria University of Wellington

The use of historic communication technologies as a vehicle for teaching and learning in the contemporary moment is at the heart of Sydney Shep’s teaching philosophy. The Wai-te-ata Press is a unique letterpress printery at Victoria University which is used as a teaching laboratory, a research centre for New Zealand print culture studies, and as a fine press printing and publishing house. Sydney uses this press as an interactive studio where through hands-on experience, students learn the rudiments of typesetting, the nature of expressive typography, printing history, book production and the basics for effective communication. Her method of teaching is to present material with enthusiasm, share research in innovative ways, challenge her own thinking and in so doing extend that of her students, and offer a professional yet caring role model. Sydney’s highly original nature in developing an outstanding programme is acknowledged by a students comment that “Sydney Shep made the book come alive”.

Dr Terry Stewart
Senior Lecturer, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University (Turitea campus)

Terry Stewart developed a unique tool for teaching plant diagnosis. The software called DIAGNOSIS allows tutors to author and present case studies for students to explore as a type of ‘adventure game’. This tool allowed Terry to move from an information transfer style of teaching to a problem-based focus where students are required to analyse an unhealthy or damaged crop scenario and provide recommendations for solutions. Terry states that “when students experience real-world problems that they must explore, evaluate and solve, they see the relevance of what they have been taught and the relevance of what they still need to learn. Terry’s “success in developing and implementing DIOGNOSIS stems from his dedication to teaching, his understanding of the pedagogical and practical uses involved in providing students with skills and relevance to real-world problems and his familiarity with the capacity of modern software to provide ‘virtual’ learning environments”.

Ramarie Raureti
Lecturer, School of Education, Te Wananga o Aotearoa (Rotorua campus)

Ramarie Raureti lectures the Bachelor of Teaching programme with the goal to have students determine their own learning experiences and preferred learning styles. In order to build her students’ technology resources and demonstrate how their unique cultural experiences, knowledge and heritage can be drawn on to achieve learning outcomes, Ramarie developed the ‘Kumara and Riwai’ unit. This innovative approach values an aspect of heritage, te reo Mäori, and tikanga Mäori to fulfil course learning outcomes as well as achievement objectives from the modern curriculum. A former student of Ramarie’s states that she “…expects nothing but the best from all her students, and has very high standards but in the same instance she also expects this from herself. Her lessons are always ‘fun’, interesting and very informative. She delivers her lesson in such a way that it becomes easy to learn and retain information. No one likes to miss any of her lessons, I haven’t missed one yet!” Ramarie is committed to developing confident and competent primary school teachers through her philosophy Whangaia te hunga matekai – Feed those who are hungry.

Excellence Awards for Excellence in Collaboration

The Stage I Introductory Statistics Team, Department of Statistics, University of Auckland
Professor Chris Wild, Matthew Regan, Rachel Cunliffe, Dr Arden Miller, Ross Parsonage, Dr Ilze Ziedins, Leila Boyle, Dr Rachel Fewster, Christine Miller, Dr Maxine Pfannkuch, Jocelyn Cumming, Mike Forster, Dr Paul Murrell and David Smith

The Stage I Introductory Statistics Team teach a suite of equivalent first-year courses which concentrate on providing students with an introduction to data analysis and statistical inference. In order to apply continuous improvement in an operation that involved large numbers of people and considerable turnover the team adopted a model that relied on individuals. The team aim was to seal enhancements permanently into the system as a whole so that the courses improved each time they were taught, regardless of who taught them. The innovation based on quality led to the evolution of student materials, including handouts, course material, resource manuals, workbooks, non-paper based learning materials and the Course CD. This CD is evidence of innovation and quality in the style of lecture delivery where students are provided flexible learning opportunities. The team is an excellent example of collaboration between schools and within a department, an achievement that is not easily acquired.

Professional Cookery Team, School of Food and Hospitality, Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Stuart Goodall, David Tame, David Spice, Hugh Wall, Stanley Tawa, Bruce Guild, Dennis Taylor, Bill Bryce, Neil MacInnes, Leon Middleditch, Paul Robinson and Marion Paewini

The Professional Cookery Team consists of chef tutors that collaborate with each other, students, tangata whenua, Ngai Tahu, secondary schools, industry training organisations and other tertiary providers to succeed in the hospitality industry. This collaboration achieves better learning and employment outcomes for students by keeping tutors up to date with current industry trends and practices whilst ensuring industry is aware of their student capabilities. This is a key element to the team success, the ability to link the practical learning environment with the hospitality industry. The team’s philosophy lies in the effectiveness of their collective and individual professionalism as educators and chefs. They are referred to as being formidable as individuals; and as a team they are ‘impossible to beat’. The success of the team’s collaboration is the many graduates who are now leading chefs in the industry, achieved through a curriculum that encourages participation in activities suitable for a variety of learning levels. The team’s excellence in collaboration is summarised by a fellow colleague, “In all my years in tertiary education, I have not come across a more focused and collegial group of tutors whose ambition is to lift the standard of professional cookery throughout the sector and throughout industry.

Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey presents the citation to the Prime Minister's Supreme Award winner Dr Peter Schwartz.