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Auckland University stats team wins national award

University of Auckland stats team wins national teaching excellence award

A statistics teaching team at The University of Auckland's Department of Statistics has won one of New Zealand's most prestigious teaching awards, a National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award for collaboration in teaching.

The first-year statistics teaching programme was originally developed ten years ago to cope with the large number of students taking the course, and to ensure the consistency and ongoing improvement of the learning resources in the department.

There are more than 3700 student enrolments in first year statistics papers at the University every year. In 2002, these enrolments involved 17 streams spread over three semesters, four campuses, 14 lecturers, 29 tutors, 25 laboratory demonstrators and 60 student markers.

Department of Statistics Head, Professor Chris Wild, says the department developed a team-based model to cope with the large numbers of students and teachers involved.

"There is little point having one course taught superbly to one group of students by one teacher. Our aim was to capture the good ideas permanently into a system that everyone used, so the courses improved each time they were taught, regardless of who taught them," says Professor Wild.

New improvements include the development of an interactive CD-Rom that contains a full set of lecture slides, videoclips, interactive worksheets and a soundtrack.

The University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor, Dr John Hood, says the award is welcome recognition of the strong emphasis the University places on the quality and innovative nature of its teaching programmes.

"Statistics is the backbone of much of the research undertaken at the University, so it is important that a wide group of students are enthused and encouraged to carry on in the subject," says Dr Hood.

Professor Wild says the key to the success of the programme has been the sharing culture and selfless teamwork within the Department.

"We wouldn't be at the point we are today, where we can cope with the huge numbers of students, without the teamwork and systems we now have in place. These have enabled us to build a set of tools that is far richer than any of us could have produced alone."

A 10-member team from the University was presented with the award at a ceremony at Parliament last night. The award includes a $20,000 grant.

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