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Massey lecturer named supreme winner

Thursday, July 16, 2008

Massey lecturer named supreme winner at national teaching excellence awards

Dr Lisa Emerson was last night named the supreme winner at the national Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards, continuing Massey’s successful run of 11 national awards in the seven years since they started.

Dr Emerson, from the School of English and Media Studies in Palmerston North, received the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award and $30,000. She was selected as nominee for the national awards after receiving Massey’s Darrilyn O’Dea Award for Innovation in eLearning earlier this year.

Dr Hamish Anderson, who teaches finance in the Department of Economics and Finance in Palmerston North, received a national award for sustained excellence in teaching and $20,000.

Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Warrington, at Parliament with Dr Emerson and Dr Anderson for the awards ceremony last night, says he is delighted with their success.

“It’s extremely pleasing to have exceptional teachers recognised and further evidence of the University’s commitment to teaching excellence.

“We pride ourselves on the quality of teaching both in the lecture theatre and through distance education and we value and hold in high regard the innovative approaches our staff use, and the standards they achieve,” Professor Warrington says.

“This year in fact we made two additional Massey teaching awards for excellence because the standard of nominees was so high – taking two of 10 national awards confirms we were on exactly the right track in recognising the strengths of our many committed teachers.”

Dr Emerson, who joined Massey in 1989, has taught and designed courses in writing across the University, and has research interests including science writing, plagiarism, online writing and writing in the disciplines. She publishes widely on academic writing, is the author of the Writing Guidelines series and runs The Writery, an online community for creative writers. The Integrative Grammar programme that she designed won the Writing Programme Administrators teaching award in 2004, the first outside North America.

Dr Emerson’s citation says the variety and breadth of teaching and assessment she uses are impressive, with her commitment evident in all she does. “Colleagues and peers comment on Lisa’s sustained leadership and professionalism.”

Dr Anderson says he was stunned to receive the national award.

“Finance is a very difficult subject for many to grasp, which presents particular challenges when teaching. However, I’ve always simply tried my best to extend all students, whatever their capability.

“To be recognised for this simple commitment to students at the national level is humbling and it reinforces for me personally my decision to teach all those years ago.”

Dr Anderson’s citation notes that he is able to match teaching strategies with learning outcomes in a way that breaks down the “Berlin Wall-size barriers” many students associate with learning about finance.

“His consistently positive student evaluations and many accolades from colleagues confirm his sustained commitment to excellence in teaching.”

The awards ceremony was hosted by Tertiary Education Minister Pete Hodgson. Nine academic staff representing Massey, Otago, Victoria, and Auckland universities, and the Otago Polytechnic and Waikato Institute of Technology received sustained excellence awards.

Mr Hodgson said it was a pleasure to see recognition for excellence in tertiary teaching.

“Between them these 10 people influence the learning of thousands of students and their excellence is therefore hugely valuable for New Zealand.”

At the ceremony, Mr Hodgson paid tribute to the work of Massey University’s Emeritus Professor Graeme Fraser, chairman of the awards committee since 2002, who is now stepping down from this role.

“Graeme will be extraordinarily difficult to replace – he has ensured the integrity and reputation of these awards and brought to the process his own commitment to tertiary teaching excellence that was manifest throughout his own academic career.”

It was noted that all 10 awardees demonstrated outstanding teaching practices that were both student-focused and committed to promoting effective learning. Common themes across portfolios included: leading by enthusiasm, caring about student achievement, using their own learning experiences to enhance their teaching methods, and recognising students not only as individuals and equals, but also potential colleagues.


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