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2018 Teaching Medal goes to scientist Professor Jon Harding

UC awards 2018 Teaching Medal to scientist Professor Jon Harding

Professor Jon Harding has won the prestigious University of Canterbury Teaching Medal for 2018.

Professor of Stream Biology and Dean of Postgraduate Research, Professor Harding co-leads the Freshwater Ecology Research Group (FERG) and is one of the principal investigators of the Canterbury Waterway Rehabilitation Experiment, known as CAREX.

Professor Harding has been a teacher and educator, first in UC’s Zoology department and then the School of Biological Sciences, for 18 years. His specialist teaching areas include freshwater biology, entomology and invasive species biosecurity.

The Teaching Medal is awarded in recognition of an outstanding and sustained contribution to teaching at UC.

UC Chancellor Dr John Wood says the University’s highest award for teaching excellence is only awarded from time to time.

“The Teaching Medal has been awarded only 10 times before, and Professor Harding is an outstanding medal nominee. The 2018 medal will be formally presented to Professor Harding later this year at a UC Council function.”



Assistant Vice-Chancellor Professor Catherine Moran is the Chair of the Learning and Teaching Committee that recommends a winner to UC Council.

“Jon strongly believes in bringing the whole class along for the journey. As a student he was one of those who sat quietly in the class trying to avoid being asked questions. Jon knows those students, and what they are going through. So he makes a concerted effort to engage with them. He wants to know if his students are learning, and it shows. Jon frequently uses stories, anecdotes and humour in class to breakdown lecture-room formality, cement ideas in students’ minds, and provide discussion points for concepts and issues,” she says.

Professor Harding has also made a concerted effort to extend his teaching beyond the classroom. He has made a number of YouTube videos (e.g. Post-quake sediment in Christchurch's urban waterways) and produced numerous books to assist educators and practitioners in stream biology.

“Alongside his many academic achievements, Jon has been nominated for the UCSA Lecturer of the Year Award seven times, in 2004 he was awarded a UC Teaching Award, and in 2011 he won an Ako Aotearoa National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award,” Professor Moran says.

Professor Harding is currently supervising a Master’s student and four PhD candidates, and has been Senior Supervisor for 35 Masters and PhD research students. Of those postgraduates, two have become academics themselves – one is a full Professor and Dean – while the majority of the others are employed as freshwater scientists in government agencies, NGOs, corporations, and environmental consultancies.

One of his former doctoral students is now a freshwater ecologist working for the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, known as NIWA, Dr Michelle Greenwood.

“Jon was the standout lecturer throughout my undergraduate degree,” Dr Greenwood says.

“His engaging teaching style, which couples intriguing anecdotes with theoretical concepts, makes lectures exciting and the key messages clear and easy to recall.”

As well as playing an active role in teaching leadership at UC, Professor Harding has also been a strong supporter of both primary and secondary teachers and science communication. He has hosted two Royal Society Teaching Fellows and has been heavily involved in the College of Science’s He Puna Pūtaiao outreach programme for many years. This programme brought Māori students from five Canterbury high schools to UC for eight weeks to help foster and develop their interest in science.

Since 2016 Professor Harding has been Dean of Postgraduate Research and in that role has been active in academic training and development around postgraduate student supervision, specifically through New Supervisors workshops and mentoring of individual academics. In this role he has provided supervision training for over 54 academics.

About the UC Teaching Medal

The University of Canterbury Teaching Medal is UC’s highest award for teaching excellence, and is awarded in recognition of an outstanding and sustained contribution to teaching in the University. The medal criteria include sustained and outstanding teaching excellence and leadership in wider teaching and learning. The 10 previous UC Teaching Medal recipients can be found here: http://www.canterbury.ac.nz/about/academic-services/awards/uc-teaching-medal/


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