Tag Archives: UC Teaching Awards

You’re invited: UC Teaching Month 2-30 July 2018

In keeping with UC’s commitment to providing a world-class environment for the next generation of researchers and graduates, the Academic Services Group are proud to launch UC Teaching Month next Monday, 2 July.

Expanding on UC Teaching Week held in previous years, Teaching Month is a series of informative workshops that allow staff to pick up technical skills and teaching tips, research supervision advice or learn how to apply for funding.

Workshops will be held over the mid-year break and during teaching time to allow more staff to attend – attendance can even be logged on Elements to support your future promotion application.  

For Assistant Vice-Chancellor | Amokapua Akoranga Professor Catherine Moran, UC Teaching Month is about taking time to reflect.

“Teaching is so much a part of our fundamental practice that sometimes we can forget to step back and share and celebrate what we do. Teaching month is an opportunity to do just that.”

Teaching Month will be officially opened by Vice-Chancellor | Tumu Whakarae Dr Rod Carr , who will be taking this opportunity to recognise the winners of the 2018 UC Teaching Awards:

Come along to celebrate our winners, and hear them discuss their own philosophies.

Teaching Month is an opportunity for you to further your professional development, connect over coffee and biscuits and come away refreshed and ready for Semester Two.

“It is through you that our students ultimately are critically competent in the core academic discipline of their degree.” Professor Moran continues.

“The range of presentations and symposia being offered by our own staff to their colleagues, is a testament of the commitment of our staff to the students, and each other.”

For a full list of events, check out the Teaching Month calendar here>

Q&A with award winner Dr Erik Brogt

As a follow-up to the 2016 UC Teaching Awards, we profile award winner Dr Erik Brogt, Senior Lecturer Academic Services Group.

Q: What are some of your career highlights?
A: As an academic developer, my role is to support good teaching and learning at UC, so I work with a lot of different programmes. My pan-university work has been tremendously rewarding; I get to see the different ways of teaching that go on around campus, and I bring the good practices from one discipline to another, even though normally those disciplines would have little reason to talk to one another.

The press conference exercise for which we were awarded the Teaching Innovation Award is a great example of what can happen if you bring different areas of expertise on campus together, in this case Disaster Risk & Resilience (formerly Hazard and Disaster Management) and Journalism.

Q: What is your teaching philosophy?
A: The overarching theme of the press conference exercise is authenticity to make the exercise as real as possible for the students. The Disaster Risk & Resilience students are responsible for managing a crisis; usually we simulate a volcanic eruption of Mount Taranaki on the North Island.

The scenario is completely realistic and was peer-reviewed by our colleagues at GNS Science and the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management. GNS Science allowed us to use their logos and format of the official alert bulletins, so it all looks and feels like the real thing.

For the Journalism students, the exercise is about breaking news reporting. They know that there is an exercise and that it involves a natural hazard, but only find out what is happening when they receive the first volcanic alert bulletin. Then they have to get up to speed fast, just like in a real newsroom. We also have staff play roles of senior officials in government and the local business and lifelines sector that the journalism students can call, just like in a real event.

Q: What do you love most about teaching?
A: I love building bridges between different disciplines, linking colleagues and together be innovative and creative about our teaching. The press conference exercise was based on all of us being willing to take a leap of faith and create something unique for both the Disaster Risk & Resilience and the Journalism programmes. It is very challenging for students, purposefully so, but the students know they have the skill and knowledge to do it. They really relish the challenge and rise to the occasion, and deliver great work.

For us as teachers, it is tremendously satisfying that the students always realise that having gone through the exercise makes them a better professional in the field. We had Journalism graduates from a few years ago come back to tell us that the exercise had helped them when they had to report on real breaking news events like the Cook Strait earthquakes. It is great to hear that the exercise has made a difference for them.

Q&A with award winner Dr Tom Wilson

As part of our follow-up to the 2016 UC Teaching Awards, we profile award winner Dr Tom Wilson, Senior Lecturer in Hazards and Disaster Management.

Q: What are your areas of interest?
A: Natural hazards risk assessment, with a focus on impacts; disaster risk reduction; and aspects of disaster resilience.

Q: What is your teaching philosophy?
A: Disasters are interdisciplinary, complex challenges for society. So I try to reflect this in my teaching, by focusing on students developing strong fundamental understanding of how, where and why disasters occur, but also on developing strong transferable interdisciplinary skills which they can use in their future profession including: communication using a range of formats, critical thinking and teamwork skills (both in relaxed and pressure situations).

Understanding and coping with uncertainty is also a key part of dealing with disasters – so putting students in (hopefully) authentic learning situations where they have to cope with undertaking assessments and make decisions in messy, complex, and information-poor situations is critical for their learning (and usually fun, rewarding and often amusing for all involved).

Q: What do you love most about teaching?
A: Working with students, seeing them achieve (and go on to awesome jobs), and having fun doing it. I really like the joy of discovery that happens in 100-level classes, which extends through to the more one-on-one teaching at post-graduate level where we get to know individuals really well and work with them on complex problems in these more advanced classes.  In particular, I absolutely love working with my fantastic thesis students and seeing them become researchers who help society reduce the impacts of future (and sometimes current) disasters.

Q: Do you have any stand-out teaching moments you would like to share?
A: Firstly, realising that the more engaging, dynamic and fun you can make teaching the more effective it is.  I’d read and heard all the theory, but to actually see it manifest in the ‘classroom’ (wherever this might be) was amazing.

The second was a former masters student, Emily Lambie, who developed a coding scheme to analyse how people react in strong earthquake shaking using CCTV footage.  It was a very challenging topic, which interlinked earthquake scientists, psychologists, public health researchers, and emergency medicine specialists.  She really did a terrific job with her masters, and she has taken this work to the world – publishing it in international journals, winning an EQC Fulbright scholarship to further these studies in the USA, and presenting her work at an international intergovernmental meeting.  Just awesome.


Q&A with Dr Ben Kennedy

As a follow-up to the 2016 UC Teaching Awards, we will be profiling  some of the winners to see what drives them to do what they do. First up is Dr Ben Kennedy, Senior Lecturer in Physical Volcanology.

Q: What are your areas of interest?
A: I teach a second year course called Rocks Minerals and Ores, as well as third and fourth year Magmatic systems and Volcanology courses. I also teach field trips where we get to take students into the mountains, along the coast and up volcanoes.

Q: What are the highlights of your career?
A: Prior to teaching at UC, I worked as a teaching learning fellow at the University of British Columbia with Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman. I was lucky enough to spend a full year learning how to teach, how to research teaching, and how to spread the word about the benefits of good teaching. Since arriving at UC seven years ago, together with Erik Brogt and an enthusiastic team from the Department of Geological Sciences, I have received several big grants from Ako Aotearoa to promote active learning, science communication role plays, and research learning in virtual and real fieldtrips.

Q: What is your teaching philosophy?
A: To focus on the students and to have fun using innovative teaching techniques that have been rigorously proven to increase learning.

Q: What do you love most about teaching?
A: All geologists love fieldwork, and I love watching students becoming part of the geology family, there is nothing like seeing rocks in action to excite and bond teachers and students alike. It is amazing to see the transformation a fieldtrip can have. An awkward group of second year geology students that don’t really know each other or what their future holds can be transformed in a week into best friends and geologists for life.

Q: Do you have any stand-out teaching moments you would like to share?
A: It has been wonderful to have been at UC long enough to see longer term transformations. I can think of one student (she will know who she is!) who started out at UC, shy, not outdoorsy, and not confident in her academic abilities – now she is an expert in her field, she hikes up and down volcanoes, jumps in and out of helicopters, she blows stuff up, appears on TV and advises DOC and GNS Science on volcanic hazards, and she has become a great teacher and mentor to other students.

ben yasur eruption2Ben watches volcanic activity from the crater of  Mount Yasur, Tanna Island, Vanuatu.



What makes a great teacher

UCSA President James Addington recently spoke at the UC Teaching Awards ceremony. Here he shares what students believe makes a great teacher.

Thank-you for making this university what it is – a great place to learn and to be taught, and a great place to succeed.

UCSA can put on events, we can build up our clubs, we can support and advocate. But it doesn’t really mean anything if students aren’t being taught, if they aren’t learning successfully. Because at the end of the day, the core student experience comes from the lecture theatre, tutorial room, or the lab.

If we do not have great teachers to back it up, then it’s hard to provide students with that great student experience.

What makes a great teacher?
I set out to find that out – and made the mistake of typing it into Google. But what I quickly found out is there a lot of different opinions on what makes a great teacher.

Some people say a great teacher:

  • Respects students
  • Is warm, accessible, enthusiastic and caring
  • Sets high expectations for all students
  • Has his/her own love of learning
  • Is a skilled leader
  • Can ‘shift gears’
  • Collaborates with colleagues on an ongoing basis
  • Maintains professionalism in all areas.

My favourite explanation is that a great teacher creates a sense of community and belonging in the classroom.

So where does that leave us, as everyone clearly has different opinions/perceptions.

I guess if you want to summarise it all… it’s the level of impact they have on a student’s life. This may be a passing of knowledge, or a stirring up or challenging the students to be critical or to be innovative, to impact them to change their mindset or behaviour.

I think personally, the great teachers who have been in my life are those who have challenged me to think differently.

The most important thing though is that every teacher should never underestimate the impact you can have on a student’s life. And it’s this level of the impact that can make teachers great.

So thanks for being great. Thanks for helping to make this community, a community where students succeed and belong. And thank-you for positively impacting their lives.

Teaching Awards 2016, held in Undercroft 101. 7.6.16 In order Teaching Awards for Phillipa Gourdie Ben Kennedy Susanna Wilson Sarah Wright and Thomas Wilson (not present) Eric Brogt and Tara Ross receive the Teaching Innovation Award-Team Award. Client Eleri Nugent,