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Awards given to stand-out UC teachers

01 December 2022

Exceptional Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC) teachers who students describe as “life-altering”, “energetic” and “inspiring”, have been honoured with prestigious awards.


University of Canterbury Teaching Awards winners for 2022 (from left), Dr Susannah Stevens, Theresa Buller, Dr Christian Walsh, Dr Zita Joyce and Dr Erin Harrington.

Tumu Tuarua Akoranga | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Professor Catherine Moran says the five Teaching Award winners for 2022 stand out to peers and students for their enthusiasm and innovation.

SDG 4 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 - Quality Education

“These are teachers and lecturers who are able to transfer their knowledge and insights to students in interesting and engaging ways, and who find and adopt new ways of doing things. They inspire and support colleagues and make a significant contribution to their various fields of expertise.”

This year, three new categories of award have been introduced. They include the General Teaching Award which covers all aspects of teaching and learning excellence; Outstanding Teaching and Learning Transformation Award which focuses on one specific aspect of teaching, and the Hapori Community of Practice Award for staff members who support learners from a wider perspective.

Each award winner receives $1500 towards teaching-related activities.

The University of Canterbury Teaching Awards were presented at the Hui Whakamānawa event last night. The winners are:

General Teaching Award: Christian Walsh (UC Business School) and Susannah Stevens (UC School of Teacher Education)

Dr Walsh’s innovative approach to teaching has been described as “life-altering” by his students. He is a Senior Lecturer in innovation management and entrepreneurship for the Entrepreneurship Major and UC Master of Business Administration.

“Christian does a great job of making it super easy to understand and practical to implement. I don’t think I’ve ever learned more in my life in such a short amount of time,” one student says in feedback.

Dr Walsh challenges his students to unleash their auahatanga (creativity)  and to test their ideas, even if they fail. “We learn more from intelligent failures than we do from dumb success,” he says.

He is a mentor to junior colleagues and was awarded HEA fellowship and UC Business School teaching awards in 2019 and 2020.

Dr Stevens, who teaches Physical Education, describes learning as “embodied, joyful and empowering”. Students, in their feedback, describe how she uses novel techniques to help them understand concepts such as māra hūpara (traditional Māori play): “Like that rock springing activity, the leaping and how Māori used this for play, physical training and leadership … I will always remember these concepts because of that.”

Dr Stevens also contributes through voluntary and community work and is the Board Chair of Physical Education New Zealand.

She says she loves teaching because it’s about human development and transforming lives. One of her PhD students reports, “Susie transports her energy, passion and values to her students, such as myself”.

 Outstanding Teaching and Learning Transformation Award: Erin Harrington and Zita Joyce (combined application, UC Faculty of Arts)

Dr Harrington and Dr Joyce’s collaborative leadership has resulted in an innovative, transformative approach to teaching postgraduate students in the Faculty of Arts.

The two Senior Lecturers have taken an energetic and hands-on approach to teaching “Arts Research and Scholarship: Introduction to Theories and Methods”, a large course that’s compulsory for all honours and many taught masters students in the Faculty of Arts. It features guest workshops from more than 20 UC staff and prepares students to carry out original research by helping them develop the personal and intellectual skills required. The pair have won praise from students for the well-organised assessment and engaging content. “Within the classes, there was a great balance of explanation and teaching with time for discussion and reflection as well - I really liked being here in person to take advantage of this,” one student said.

 Hapori Community of Practice Award: Theresa Buller (UC Library)

Theresa Buller has made a vital contribution to the success of students in the Law and Bachelor of Criminal Justice programme at UC as a Subject Librarian.

She is passionate about developing library and legal research skills and has designed and implemented a series of engaging and flexible online learning experiences for students in these programmes.

It is currently the only legal research skills programme of its kind across the six law schools in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Students have commented on the positive impact of her resources. “The modules are extremely helpful. They build on the knowledge we gained in LAWS100 nicely. What is most useful is the fact we can refer back to them for a reminder if we need to throughout the year.”

Read more about Hui Whakamānawa here.

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