2016 Teaching Awards - Academic Services Group - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

2016 Teaching Awards 

Phillipa Gourdie, School of Mathematics and Statistics

Nominated by Irene David, School of Mathematics and Statistics

Philippa’s work as a senior tutor involves supporting students in the transition to university as well as teaching first year mathematics. Her teaching is described by students as “enthusiastic, effective, enjoyable and exciting – even for mathematics!” Phillipa’s greatest desire is to see students succeed, and she is always learning so that she can better support this. Her belief is that a great teacher must have a deep love of teaching themselves. She is known as a teacher who actively investigates the relevant teaching research and different ways of doing things and her willingness to share and discuss teaching ideas is welcomed by her colleagues.

Phillipa connects with her students and creates a sense of community and belonging in every learning setting, whether it be a lecture, tutorial or help session. Even when teaching very large courses with an increasingly diverse range of students, she gets to know as many of them as possible as individuals.  She is warm, accessible, compassionate and caring and this is recognised by her students who know they can go to her with their problems and challenges. In her classes she sets high expectations for students and demonstrates these herself as she strives for excellence.

Dr Ben Kennedy, Department of Geological Sciences

Nominated by Professor Catherine Reid, Head of Geological Sciences

Ben describes himself simply as someone who loves teaching. He says that every day he learns more from his student and colleagues.  He is renowned for working very hard to bring out the full potential in the students he works with.  As a leader in geoscience education research, he is proud of the community of committed science educators that he has helped develop around the country.

Despite his self-confessed rather casual persona, Ben’s teaching philosophy and methodology is highly structured, informed and updated using rigorous science education research. His students and colleagues report he displays a sustained excellence in teaching, and they emphasise his enthusiasm and empathy towards students and his successful use of cutting edge learning techniques. He is driven by implementing changes and practices that benefit student learning and rigorously evaluates those to ascertain whether they help students better understand the geology concepts he is trying to teach.

Ben says he feels confident that the undergraduate and postgraduate students he has helped to educate will become ambassadors for UC and will promote UC’s reputation for science education. He says that he senses that science education is undergoing a global revolution and that he feels he can help UC and its students to be part of that revolution. 

Susanna Wilson, School of Teacher Education

Nominated by Nicki Dabner, Chair, College of Education Learning and Teaching Committee

Susanna is described by her students variously as “brilliant’ and “a bloody good teacher who takes awesome classes.” Her teaching portfolio demonstrated to the awards’ panel her ongoing commitment to designing and delivering quality course experiences which support all students to prepare as well as they can, for mathematics teaching. She notes that for many students, mathematics is an area of anxiety and stress and that her overall aim is to support them to overcome this and step into the classroom with courage, confidence and knowledge. Her colleagues cite her detailed and focussed preparation for her lectures and workshops, her regular refinements and improvements to her Learn site and her attention to detail and excellent communication and connection skills for her distance and regional students.  Her focussed yet friendly approach to teaching provides an exemplar to colleagues. She puts considerable time into ensuring that her courses incorporate a bicultural aspect and also cater for Pasifika and other diverse learners.

Sue says that teaching was her first and only career choice, and that she intends to continue to teach with passion to ensure success for her students and tamariki in schools in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Dr Sarah Wright, Department of Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship

Nominated by Dr Sanna Malinen, Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship

Sarah’s Head of Department describes her as “one of the quiet achievers in teaching who is making a real difference to the lives of students, which not only helps shape them as individuals, but also better prepares them for their future careers.” Sarah’s teaching philosophy promotes complete learner exploration of the subject matter and relies on students taking an active role in their learning.  She says that managers who possess a balance of self-insight and perspective are inherently more effective at managing organisations, so sees her job as an educator as helping students learn how to possess these attributes so they can become effective contributors in organisations.

Sarah strongly believes in the power of experiential learning and the transformative influence it can have on students’ learning and development into an effective professional. She has been particularly effective in leveraging the Erskine programme and experts from overseas to continually strive for new ways to engage students in the classroom. The panel felt that this award would acknowledge the work she has put into her courses and to improve the experience of PhD students to align with the University’s values on student-centric learning and creating work-ready graduates.


UC Teaching Innovation Award Winners

Dr Thomas Wilson, Department of Geological Sciences (Not pictured)
Tara Ross, Journalism
Dr Erik Brogt, Academic Services Group

Nominated by Professor Jarg Pettinga, Geological Sciences

The natural hazard management/journalism press conference exercise is an exceptional example of successful cross-departmental collaboration for the benefit of student learning. This exercise brings together two groups of students – Professional Masters’ students in Disaster Risk and Resilience and Postgraduate Diploma students in Journalism and exposes them to one of two realistic natural hazard scenarios – either a ‘blue sky’ (no prior warning) volcanic eruption of Mount Taranaki or a large far-field tsunami off the East Coast of New Zealand following an earthquake on the Peru/Chile subduction zone.

The exercise is a highly innovative authentic assessment for both groups of students in their respective roles. Each member of the teaching team has made a substantial effort to understand the needs and shortcomings of each group of students to create a real-world scenario that is uniquely preparing UC graduates for their future careers.  Students say that the feedback loop is particularly valuable with science students receiving feedback on their communication in the press conference and journalism students on the accuracy of their science reporting. The scenario itself is very realistic so much so that on the news website a banner had to be posted to note that this is a mock event rather than a real one.     

The scenario has been peer reviewed by GNS Sciences and mimics the New Zealand Civil Defence Emergency Management structure. The exercise has already received international recognition when Tom, Tara and Erik were presented with the 2015 International Association of Emergency Managers Oceania Region Technology and Innovation Award (Division 2).   
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