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Tertiary teaching excellence to be rewarded

Up to ten outstanding tertiary teachers will be awarded New Zealand’s first Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards this year.

Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey called for applications for the inaugural awards today and said they will recognise excellence in tertiary teaching, promote good teaching practice and enhance career development for tertiary teachers. An annual publication showcasing tertiary teaching best-practice will also be produced and widely distributed. Funding for the awards and the publication was set aside in last year’s budget.

Details of the awards criteria are being sent out this week along with an invitation to tertiary providers to identify tertiary teachers they consider most worthy of recognition.

Steve Maharey said the awards give tertiary teaching the recognition it has long lacked and are a practical way for the government to encourage the transfer of knowledge.

“Ground-breaking research by academic staff in our tertiary institutions has long been recognised – but until now cutting-edge teaching has not been acknowledged nationally.

“The awards not only acknowledge and reward our best tertiary teachers, but also generally raise awareness of the need for ongoing teaching improvement across the whole post-secondary education and training system.

“There will be up to ten awards each year for excellence across three categories as well as a supreme Prime Minister’s award. The number of awards made each year will depend on the quality of the nominations received.

“The categories are Sustained Excellence, Excellence in Innovation and Excellence in Collaboration. The recipients of the excellence awards will receive $20,000 each and the winner of the Prime Minister’s award will receive $30,000 to be spent enhancing their teaching career and promoting best practice.

“The awards are an important element of the government’s tertiary education agenda to provide clear strategic direction for the entire post-secondary education and training system and to improve the quality of teaching and research. Other related initiatives include the establishment of a tertiary complaints function within the Office of the Ombudsman this year and the Centres of Excellence Research (CoRE) Fund.

“Nominations will be considered by a specially constituted Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards Committee drawn from the sector chaired by Massey University Assistant Vice- Chancellor (Academic) Professor Graeme Fraser.

“The other members of the committee are Andrew Campbell, Co-President of the New Zealand University Students’ Association; Deborah Willis, Director of the Victoria University of Wellington University Teaching Development Centre; Stuart Middleton, General Manager Academic Services at Auckland College of Education; June Tam, representing the Aotearoa Tertiary Students Association; John Blakey, chair of the Industry Training Federation; Christine Teariki, chair of the Takitimu School of the Performing Arts Trust; Kathie Irwin, Managing Director of Educational Horizons Limited and Paul McElroy, Chief Executive of the Universal College of Learning.

“The awards criteria and nominations process were also developed by the committee,” Steve Maharey said.

Steve Maharey said the committee provides excellent coverage of the tertiary sector and consists of respected experts.

Nominations are expected from a variety of tertiary providers, including universities, wananga, polytechnics, colleges of education and organisations representing private training establishments. Nominations close on 29 March 2002, with the recipients announced at a ceremony in June 2002. The awards are administered by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.



The Government has established annual awards for outstanding tertiary teaching. These awards recognise excellence in tertiary teaching and provide an opportunity for teachers to further their careers and share good practice with others. The first awards will be announced in June 2002. The selection process will be undertaken by the Tertiary Teaching Awards Committee, and supported by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. The awards will be made at a formal ceremony. This ceremony will provide an opportunity to celebrate the success of the awardees and to promote excellence in teaching in the tertiary sector.

The purpose of the awards is to:

 recognise excellence in tertiary teachings;
 enhance good practice in action;
 enhance career development for teachers by valuing and rewarding excellence in teaching.


Awards for excellence will be considered in three categories. There will be up to 9 awards of $20,000 each and a supreme award, the Prime Minister’s Award, of $30,000. The award winners will not be eligible for another award in any category for a period of 6 years. The number of awards and the three categories described below indicates the Awards Committee’s aim to encompass the diversity of teachers and providers across all levels of tertiary education and training.

The three categories of awards are as follows:

Category One: Sustained Excellence
To be awarded to the teachers who demonstrate continuing excellence in their teaching over a period of at least six years.

Category Two: Excellence in Innovation
To be awarded to the teachers who demonstrate innovation in their teaching methods, curriculum design or materials which enhance learners’ learning.

Category Three: Excellence in Collaboration
To be awarded to groups or teams that demonstrate the ability to work in a collaborative way for the betterment of learners’ learning.

The following information provides an overview that underpins the general and specific criteria for each category of award.

If we reflect on the qualities of the people who have had the most profound effect on our learning, it is likely that we would agree that excellent teachers have commitment to their subject, knowledge, enthusiasm and the ability to stimulate learners’ thought and interest. The best teachers are also likely to be organised, well prepared, clear about what they teach and how they measure achievement. Above all, they are committed to the achievement of their learners, to advancing understanding of the subject they teach, and to contributing to each learner’s evolving development in the wider context of the thinking world.


All publicly funded institutions and Private Training Establishments (PTEs) involved in tertiary education are eligible to nominate teaching staff for awards. This includes Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education, Wananga, and PTEs. The nomination form is attached in Appendix One.

Letters requesting nominations have been sent to the Chief Executive Officers (CEO’s) of all Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education, PTEs and Wananga. Information about the awards is also available directly from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority at P O Box 160, Wellington, and www.nzqa.govt.nz/circulars/awards.

A process of nomination will be used to identify the tertiary education teachers to be considered for the Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards. This means that all nominations must come through the nominee’s institution with eligible teachers initiating their application for nomination with their institution. In the case of PTEs, candidates for nomination will be forwarded either through AMPTEE or NZAPEP.

Universities, Colleges of Education, Polytechnics and Wananga may submit up to two nominations through their relevant CEO. AMPTEE and NZAPEP may submit up to five nominations each on behalf of PTEs. A letter from the CEO or Chairperson, which addresses the nominees’ qualities in relation to the general and category criteria and identifies the category of award to which the nomination applies, must accompany the nomination.

In the case of Category Three: Excellence in Collaboration, the limit on the number of nominations will also apply; however, the nomination should name a project leader and identify the staff or institutions directly involved in the collaboration.


The portfolio provides the supporting evidence for the nomination and must be submitted with the nomination form. The portfolio will enable the institution making the nomination, and subsequently the Tertiary Teaching Awards Committee to assess the merit of nominees in relation to the relevant criteria.

The portfolio should include an analysis of the methods, materials, assessments, evaluations, and relevant teaching materials prepared and used by nominees in classes for which they are responsible. The portfolio may also include up to six (6) references from the nominee’s colleagues or past students. The assessment process for the awards will be based principally on what is demonstrated through the body of work submitted in the portfolio.

The Tertiary Teaching Awards Committee requires twelve typed copies of the nomination portfolio (i.e. an original plus eleven (11) copies). The supporting materials in the portfolio should not include copies of publications, or be more than twenty (20) single pages in total length.


Reference has already been made to the defining qualities of the concept of the excellent teacher, and to the effects such teachers have on learners. It is this concept of excellence – the ethos of the truly outstanding teacher which underpins the awards.

The following sections provide information on the general criteria and each of the categories in which the awards are to be made.


The following general criteria apply to each category of award and should be read in conjunction with the category-specific criteria in which the nomination is to be made.

Design for Learning

The applicant must show evidence of sound content, teaching methods, and provide assessment policies and practices. Appropriate and varied learning resources should also be described or illustrated.

Supporting evidence on design for learning might include:

 Demonstrating the choice of content and teaching methods that suit the subject matter and the learners’ needs.
 Analysis of learners’ current levels of understanding and learning styles in order to adapt teaching methods and “point of entry” for a topic or subject;
 Demonstrating consistency between subject objectives, the ways the topic or subject is taught and forms of assessment used.
 Evidence of ways in which learners are encouraged to develop research methods, through libraries, internet and other resources.
 Information about how individual or group differences that relate to culture, gender, ethnicity and experience are responded to in the teaching environment.
 Details of assessment policies and practices.

Learning from Teaching

The research literature and practice make it clear that the best learner is the engaged learner. Thus it is important to establish how the teacher goes about engaging learners, so that their prospects for successful learning and achievement are maximized. How does the teacher demonstrate enthusiasm for the subject and at the same time show an understanding of the learning process? What evidence can be provided that the structure of a learning activity is working and the thinking process of the learner is developing?

Supporting evidence on learning from teaching might include:
 Demonstrating how enthusiasm is shown for a subject and its impacts on learners.
 Outlining the range of learning activities used, and how the success of these is measured.
 Explaining the reasons for the choices of methods and approaches in terms of the learners’/students’ learning needs.
 Explaining how reluctant or unmotivated learners are dealt with, and how learners are encouraged to reflect on their own commitment to learning.
 Describing or demonstrating the ways used to encourage learners to develop critical thinking and methods of analysis appropriate to the subject.
 Outlining the approach used to foster confident, competent learners, with respect to both the content and structure of the course, in terms of feedback to learners.


Evaluation has many purposes and is a vital component of any successful course. A key question is how is evaluation used to improve teaching and encourage learners’ growth into independent thinkers and doers?

Supporting evidence on evaluation might include:

 Demonstrating how links are made between subject objectives, choice of teaching methods, and assessment.
 Describing and giving examples of how the course outcomes and learning are evaluated.
 Showing how evaluation has been used and describing any continual improvement to course content or teaching approaches.
 Providing an example of an approach tried that did not work, including explaining why it failed and what changes were made as a result.
 Describing the techniques used to evaluate teaching, methods used, and course (e.g. through peer appraisals, learner evaluations, surveys).

Professional Development and Leadership

Both subject knowledge and teaching methods need to be fostered if a teacher is to maintain excellence. These can be developed informally and formally and could include reflection on actual practice. Involvement in mentoring, both giving and receiving information and new ideas, is a way of sharing good practice within and across institutions. How do nominees keep alive their passion for their work and their learners?

Supporting evidence on professional development and leadership might include:

 Outlining how the practitioner keeps their knowledge and understanding of subject current.
 Describing strategies used for reflecting on teaching practice and developing new skills.
 Specifying how methods and ideas are shared with colleagues.
 Describing involvement with teaching colleagues and outlining any leadership role played.
 Providing details of scholarly or practical publications, or seminars and conference presentations.


This section defines each category and describes the areas of evidence that need to be included in the portfolio for each of the categories.

Category One: Sustained Excellence

To be considered worthy of nomination for this category of award, teachers must demonstrate in their portfolio that they have practised and developed their skills over at least six years. They need to provide evidence of sustained innovation and development in all their practice. They will also need to demonstrate how they have acted as leaders in their field, with colleagues or in the wider context of education. The sustaining of excellence should also demonstrate the teacher’s versatility.

Nominations for this category should:

 Provide evidence of sustained curriculum development, describing programmes that have been developed, and the work involved in launching new programmes, as well as evidence of the success of the programmes.
 Provide evidence of sustained contribution to teaching, both in and out of the classroom, including any special projects, involvement in teaching, learner outcomes, and contributions to conferences, relevant research and publications.
 Provide evidence of sustained influence on colleagues, in their thinking and teaching. This influence may be formal (e.g. programme supervisor, mentor) or informal (e.g. discussions, sharing of information) and should include examples from colleagues which describe how working with the nominee resulted in a changed and better approach or course.

Category Two: Excellence in Innovation

To be considered worthy of nomination for this category teachers must show innovation in an aspect of teaching such as curriculum design, teaching methods, media, materials, and application. They must also provide evidence of the success of the innovation and describe how it has affected or improved the learners’ knowledge, approach or outcomes.

Nomination for this category of excellence should:

 Describe what is significant and particularly innovative about the aspect of course design chosen.
 Outline the process that led to the innovation, including any particular problems it was intended to overcome.
 Describe how the effectiveness of the innovation has been evaluated and how the evaluation led to further change or innovation.
 Provide details of specific outcomes where the innovation has contributed to learner/student learning, and instances of these.

Category Three: Excellence in Collaboration

To be considered worthy of nomination for this category the project/team leader, along with participating staff, in addition to demonstrating excellence, must provide evidence of the scope and substance of the collaboration. The benefits in terms of results for learner and strengthening of colleagues in their teaching must also be described.

Nominations for this category of excellence should:

 Explain what the collaboration was designed to achieve.
 Describe the formal and informal collaboration processes that result in achievement for learners and staff involved in the programme.
 Show that the results for learners generated by the team approach, have clearly benefited from collaboration.
 Demonstrate how the project/team leader has influenced and supported the work of others, through collaboration, to improve teaching and the results for learners.
 Describe with specific examples, the ways in which communication is developed and maintained for the benefit of colleagues and learners. The outcomes should also be specified.

Note: The criteria for each category of award are coupled with the general criteria of excellence in the selection process.


The Tertiary Teaching Awards Committee has nine members (see Appendix Two) and comprises a balance of gender/ethnicity, experience and representation across the tertiary education sector.

Copies of the nomination and the portfolio will be circulated to all members of the committee. Each nomination will be evaluated against the relevant criteria for the awards and the committee will analyse the supporting evidence provided in the portfolio in relation to the general and category criteria. The committee reserves the right to seek further clarifying information from nominees, if necessary.

Members will be required to make known any conflict of interest they may have in respect of a nomination(s) and may be excluded from assessing that nominations(s) on the basis of that information. Members will also be excluded from assessing any nominations from their own institution. Decisions made in respect of these matters will be recorded.

The committee’s decision on the successful awardees will be full and final and no correspondence about decisions will be entered into without proper cause. Awardees will receive feedback on their portfolio.

Awardee Obligations

Awardees will be encouraged to share, present and promote good practice within their own institution and other institutions. Awardees will also be required to write a brief paper on their successful nomination for the Tertiary Teaching Awards booklet. The nomination material provided by the awardees may also be used for publication.

Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards are granted on the condition that the award is expended on activities and/or initiatives designed to enhance the recipient’s teaching career and promote best practice.

Successful award recipients will be required to provide a statement to the committee certifying that monies have been expended in accordance with the award conditions.


Portfolios must be submitted to the following address by 5:00pm, 29 March 2002:

Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards
New Zealand Qualifications Authority
P O Box 160

Late nominations will not be accepted.

Any enquiries about the nomination process should be made to this address or a check made to the following site www.nzqa.govt.nz/circulars/awards.
Appendix One

Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards: Nomination Form

Position: _______________________________________________________________

Address: _______________________________________________________________
____________________________________________Postal Code: ________________
Telephone: ( ) ____________________E-mail:________________________________

Tertiary Provider: _______________________________________________________

Nomination Category: ___________________________________________________

CEO/Chairperson (Name): ________________________________________________________________________

Institution/or Nominating Organisation: ___________________________________

Business Address: _______________________________________________________
____________________________________________Postal Code: ________________
Telephone: ( ) ____________________E-mail:________________________________

CEO/Chairperson Signature

Each applicant must submit their nomination through their own institution, or for PTEs, through either AMPTEE or NZAPEP. Nominations submitted to the Tertiary Teaching Awards Committee will be signed off and sent by their appropriate CEO/Chairperson, indicating that criterion are met for possible selection.
Appendix Two

Tertiary Teaching Awards Committee Members

Chair: Professor Graeme Fraser – New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee

John Blakey - Industry Training Federation

Dr Deborah Willis - Victoria University

Andrew Campbell - New Zealand University Students Association

June Tam - Christchurch Polytechnic Student Association

Kathie Irwin - Educational Horizons Limited

Stuart Middleton - Auckland College of Education

Paul McElroy - Universal College of Learning

Christine Teariki - Aotearoa Maori Providers of Training Education &

The Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards Committee

Professor Graeme Fraser trained as a primary teacher at Dunedin College of Education. In 1985 Professor Fraser took on the role of Assistance Vice- Chancellor (Academic) at Massey University and was appointed to this position full time in 1991. He has been a member of the Committee for University Academic Programmes, the Committee responsible for the accreditation and approval of university qualifications, since its inception in 1990 and was appointed Chairperson in 1996.

Andrew Campbell is the Co-President of the New Zealand University Students’ Association (NZUSA). Andrew has been involved in student associations since 1998 when he was first elected to the Executive of Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA). In 2000 he was its President. Andrew also sat on the Otago University Council in 2000 and was a member of the university’s committee of academic learning and teaching.

Deborah Willis is Associate Professor and Director of the Victoria University of Wellington Teaching Development Centre (UTDC). The UTDC provides academic development and advice to university staff and administers the student evaluation system. Professor Willis has recently completed projects dealing with Victoria University teaching excellence awards, group work and its assessment, and peer review of teaching.

Stuart Middleton joined the staff of the Auckland College of Education after many years of teaching English in South Auckland secondary schools. He was appointed Principal of Aorere College in 1990 and returned to the Auckland College of Education as Director of Secondary Teacher Education in 1997. He now is General Manager Academic Services at the College and chairs the City of Manukau Education Trust (COMET).

June Tam, Ngati Kahu and Ngapuhi, is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Aotearoa Tertiary Students Association (ATSA). She is President of the Christchurch Polytechnic Student Association (CPSA), and represents CPSA at the National Student Congress of ATSA. June has been a student at the Christchurch Polytechnic for five years studying Maori and Social Services.

John Blakey is Chair of the Industry Training Federation and a member of the New Zealand Forest Owners’ and New Zealand Forest Industries Council Training and Safety Committee. He has been Chief Executive of Forest Industries Training (FIT) for four years. Previously, John was Head of the School of Communications Studies at Auckland Institute of Technology (AIT) and part of the team that established the Limkokwing Institute of Creative Technology in Kuala Lumpur.

Christine Teariki is a member of the Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Board, spokesperson/facilitator on matauranga (education/learning) matters and organises the annual iwi academic scholarships. She is deputy chair of Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga and chairs the Takitimu School of the Performing Arts Trust that delivers the Bachelor of Maori Performing Arts degree in partnership with Massey University. She served three terms on the Palmerston North College of Education Council before its merger with Massey University.

Kathie Irwin, Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Porou, initially trained as a primary school teacher. She lectured at Massey University from 1981 to 1988 and Victoria University of Wellington from 1988 to 2000. Kathie was Head of Department and Kaihutu (Director) of He Parekereke, the Institute of Research and Development in Maori Education. Since 2000, Kathie has been Managing Director of Educational Horizons Limited.

Paul McElroy initially worked with the Department of Lands and Survey and Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries before becoming the Director of Corporate Services at Manawatu Polytechnic. Paul was the Chairperson of the Board of Directors at TEI Works Limited, a member of Manawatu Polytechnic Council, Vice-President of the Association of Polytechnics in New Zealand (APNZ) for 2000 and President of APNZ in 2001. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Universal College of Learning.

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