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National teaching excellence awards for Waikato staff

4 August 2011

National teaching excellence awards for Waikato staff

Two University of Waikato lecturers have received awards for sustained excellence in tertiary teaching at the recent Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards ceremony.

Waikato Management School’s Dr Mary Fitzpatrick and the School of Māori and Pacific Development’s Sandy Morrison were among 13 winners of the annual Ako Aotearoa awards held at a ceremony in Wellington last night.

Funded by the Tertiary Education Commission, the awards acknowledge teaching practices that are student-focused and committed to promoting effective learning. They also provide an opportunity for teachers to further their careers and share their good practice with others.

A key focus of the awards is how the teachers have enhanced their students’ learning, and student evaluation is an important part of the nomination process.
“I don’t think there would be many of us who walk into a classroom aiming for awards,” says Marketing’s Dr Fitzpatrick. “It’s something I never set out to accomplish. You just walk into the classroom with the aim of doing the very best you can for your students on the day, all this other stuff is just the spin off.”

“In the beginning of my teaching career I had a few fairly spectacular train wrecks in the classroom and now I’ve got to the stage where I sit at my desk and plan for the ideal classroom scenario. I do my best to set up the classroom so students make connections between theory and practical examples, and theory and real life.”

School of Māori Pacific Development’s Sandy Morrison, who won an award for sustained excellence in a Kaupapa Māori Context, says her teaching style is to make all students feel welcome and free to discuss their thoughts.

“All students, not just Māori students, no matter how old or young come with a whole lineage and genealogy. By validating and acknowledging that I create a space where everyone feels comfortable and safe.
“My main teaching has been around the Treaty of Waitangi and because it’s such a contentious issue it’s important to have an open environment where everyone feels safe to voice their thoughts.”

Staff must first win Faculty and then Waikato University Teaching Excellence Awards to be nominated for the Ako Aotearoa awards by the University.


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