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Outstanding tertiary teachers recognised

Outstanding tertiary teachers recognised

The 2004 Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards have been awarded.

Dr Gary Bold, a physics lecturer at Auckland University, was tonight awarded the supreme prize by the Prime Minister at the 2004 Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards ceremony held at Parliament.

Dr Bold, a physics lecturer for 43 years, was awarded $30,000 in prize money. He was one of twelve academics from nine tertiary institutions presented with awards.

The awards celebrate excellence in tertiary teaching, promote good teaching practice, and enhance career development for tertiary teachers.

Awards worth $20,000 each were presented to tertiary teachers showing sustained excellence and excellence in innovation. Award winners can use the prize money to enhance their teaching career and promote best practice amongst their colleagues.

In total $210,000 in award money was presented at the ceremony.

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. These teachers make an important contribution to New Zealand, and inspire others to lift their own teaching practice.

"Great teachers attract students to tertiary education. 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.

Acting Associate Minister Education (Tertiary Education) Margaret Wilson, said winners were required to report back to Government on what they had spent the award money on. She said it was common for recipients to spend money on new 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," Margaret Wilson said.

Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award winners

Prime Minister's Supreme Award

Dr Gary Bold Department of Physics University of Auckland

"After 43 years grappling with university teaching, I finally feel that I'm getting the hang of it."

Gary Bold has dedicated a lifetime to teaching physics. During his 43 years he has taught all courses in the University of Auckland Department of Physics at stage one and two, and all courses in geophysics, signal processing, network theory at stage three and Honours. He has taught classes of one and classes of 300. He has devised and revised experiments and designed the present curriculum for all second and third year physics courses in network theory, digital signal processing, electronics and instrumentation.

Friendliness, humility and absolute honesty in dealing with students are his guiding principles. He couples this with absolute mastery of his subject and superb presentation techniques in the lecture theatre.

"I have constantly been challenged to adapt my techniques of teaching, and it fascinates me to find every year that I'm still changing things, trying to do better."

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the university says this of his colleague, ". . . the inspiration and values that he gives to both students and colleagues, the reputation that he has generated for both himself and the University of Auckland, and the hundreds of his students that are actively involved in developing the very successful high-end electronics industry that now make a major contribution to our economy, attest beyond doubt to the fact that he will be remembered as one of the great teachers that we are fortunate to have in this country."

Sustained Excellence Awards

Dr Richard Shaw School of Sociology, Social Policy, Social Work Massey University Palmerston North

Richard Shaw has developed and taught undergraduate papers in public policy since their inception as part of Massey's Bachelor of Arts programme. Dr Shaw's teaching is characterised by his passion for his subject, his belief in his students and the pleasure he derives from the act of teaching. His philosophy is that good teaching contributes significantly to learning and future life opportunities of students. Testimonials from students show that his teaching has had a profound and continuing effect on many, inspiring some to alter majors and in some cases even career plans. In 1999 he received a College Teaching Award in recognition of teaching excellence. He continues to research and publish on his subject, and maintains strong links with policy stakeholders and developers ensuring that his teaching is up-to-the-minute and relevant to the current political environment.

Professor John F Davidson School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies Victoria University

Finding as many points of contact as possible between the ancient world and the lives of his students in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has inspired John Davidson's teaching of Classics at Victoria University for 35 years.

Since 1969 Professor Davidson has taught beginners language courses in Greek and Latin, advanced courses in the two languages involving literary texts (200 level to Honours), and Classical Studies courses to Masters and PhD level.

His ability to engage with his audience in lectures is legend amongst both colleagues and students. Many can recall his lectures in detail some years on. He has been described as "one of the finest teachers I have encountered anywhere" and one past pupil and later colleague has "never met a teacher of like ability".

Dr Derrick Moot Senior Lecturer in Plant Science Lincoln University

Derrick Moot has been a lecturer in plant science at Lincoln University since 1996. His success in teaching has been recognised twice by teaching excellence awards from Lincoln.

Derrick teaches at all levels from Diploma to post-graduate level and is consistently praised for his skill in imparting hard scientific knowledge to a wide range of audiences from 'muddy boots' actual farmers, to PhD students, to agricultural managers. He is a well-known public speaker in his field and describes himself as a passionate agriculturalist with a desire to make a positive contribution.

Murray Skeaff Associate Professor in Human Nutrition University of Otago

Murray Skeaff is credited with growing the Department of Human Nutrition at Otago University into the largest such department in Australasia and developing undergraduate and post-graduate programmes in nutrition which are regarded as being among the best in the world.

Teaching his students to think critically, to evaluate and to communicate and apply knowledge, are the goals that inspire Murray's teaching efforts. His use of active learning (including having his students conduct dietary intervention experiments on themselves), case studies and computer technology in his programmes, has won him consistent praise from students and colleagues alike.

Dr Juliet A. Gerrard Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry School of Biological Sciences University of Canterbury

Juliet Gerrard's teaching is described as 'magical' more than once in testimonials. She received a University of Canterbury Teaching Award in 2003 and was voted Best Lecturer in the University by the Students Association in the same year. She has implemented dramatic improvements in curriculum design and organisation, focusing on streamlining the curriculum in order to leave more time for problem-based and skills-based teaching. "Fellow academic staff see Juliet not only as a shining light in teaching practice, as evidenced by student feedback, but also as a leader in revolutionising the very structure of our curriculum."

Judy Brown Associate Professor of Accounting School of Accounting and Commercial Law Victoria University of Wellington (VUW)

Judy Brown has received three VUW Awards for special achievements in teaching including being recognised as one of the 100 'Great Teachers' by VUW alumni. Profiled in a VUW advertising campaign in 1997 she was described as "an accountant with attitude". As passionate about the education process as she is about her subjects, she says her aim is to leave students with an educational experience that lasts well beyond their years at university. "I have a commitment to education for personal agency and citizenship, as well as for employment." She is described by one student as "the very essence of what it means to be a truly gifted educator".

Dr Gerard B Rowe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering The University of Auckland

Generations of electrical engineers remember Gerard Rowe as "their most valued and fondly remembered lecturer". During his 20 year teaching career Gerard has been awarded 14 teaching awards, including two University of Auckland Distinguished Teaching Awards and a University of Auckland Teaching Excellence Award in the Sustained Excellence in Teaching category - a good track record for someone who has "never been especially comfortable speaking in public". Gerard summarises his teaching philosophy in one word - integration - and says that this distinguishes his approach more than anything. Gerard teaches at all levels and has deliberately taught across a wide range of subjects.

Excellence in Innovation

Dr Grant Waller and Debbie Corder School of Languages Auckland University of Technology

Grant Waller and Debbie Corder were led to develop a new way of teaching in response to the difficulty learners of Japanese have in grappling not only with a new language, but an entirely different system of script. The result was their computer-assisted language learning (CALL) software, QTKanji. The system has been hailed by AUT as one of the most significant and sustained examples of innovation in the Faculty of Arts.

The results of Grant and Debbie's "extensive evaluation, employing both qualitative and quantitative methodologies", "clearly show how successful the project has been in overcoming learner difficulties with respect to Kanji acquisition, not just in terms of success rates, but also in developing effective learning strategies and greater autonomy in the students."

Dale Sheehan and David Jansen Akona: Bicultural and Collaborative Teaching and Learning on the Graduate Certificate in Clinical Teaching Christchurch College of Education

A key goal of Maori health provider development in New Zealand is to establish programmes run by Maori for Maori. This goal requires a pool of qualified health professionals who are willing and confident to teach the next generation of practitioners. Within this frame of reference, Dale Sheehan and David Jansen's innovation was to adapt a mainstream health education programme - The Graduate Certificate in Clinical Teaching - to meet the needs of interdisciplinary groups of Maori health professionals. The content is mainstream, international and interdisciplinary, but the pedagogy is Maori, with Maori customs, values and traditions upheld and practised.

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