Saturday, June 15, 2024

Exceptional UC teachers and mentors recognised

Improving access for diverse learners was a common theme among the 2023 winners of Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury’s (UC) annual Teaching Awards.

Teachers at the University are nominated for the awards by their students and fellow academics.

UC Tumu Tuarua Akoranga | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Professor Catherine Moran says this year’s winners have been singled out for their enthusiasm, innovation and success.

“We congratulate these exceptional staff members for always looking for new and better ways to share their knowledge, inspire their students and support their colleagues. They deserve recognition for their efforts,” she said.

The Outstanding Teaching and Learning Transformation Award has been given to ENGME!, a student-led and faculty-enabled peer mentoring programme that has made a positive impact for more than 6,000 students since its launch six years ago.

Over this period, ENGME! has become a community of over 250 student leaders and several staff from across UC, but the behind-the-scenes academic team members recognised with the award are; Dr Daniel van der WaltDr Rachael WoodProfessor Philippa MartinDr Christopher McGann, and Dr Bahareh Shahri; all from UC’s Faculty of Engineering.

Professor Moran says ENGME! has boosted first-year engineering students’ sense of belonging and inclusion, particularly for traditionally under-served students, through special mentoring groups for women, Māori, Pacific, international, and older students.

The success of the approach is evident in its adoption by other faculties and schools across UC and in the nationwide recognition it received winning the Engineering New Zealand – ENVI Engineering Education Award earlier this year.   

Professor Philippa Martin also received a national Te Whatu Kairangi – Aotearoa Tertiary Educator award from Ako Aotearoa this year for her work to transform the engineering learning environment with initiatives including ENGME!

The Teaching Excellence Award winners are Teena Henderson (Ngāi Tahu), Lecturer in Te Reo Māori, and Senior Lecturer in Faculty of Law Dr Toni Collins.

Teena Henderson has taught undergraduate te reo Māori at UC for 10 years and is a Te Reo Coordinator who is described as the pou (pillar) of the programme. She takes a whānau approach to teaching, supporting a diverse range of students ranging from secondary school learners in the STAR (Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource) programme, to parents who may need to bring their young children to class.

Teena brings her community experiences and research into the Master of Māori and Indigenous Leadership and many other programmes across the University including the Master of Business Administration, first year core science courses and in the Faculty of Education. 

Feedback from students and colleagues highlights her interactive teaching approach and her ability to create a welcoming, engaging learning experience for students.

Dr Collins has been teaching at all levels in the UC Faculty of Law for the past seven years.

She aims to create authentic learning experiences in the classroom and has a strong focus on helping graduates gain attributes that will make them successful in the workplace.

She also embeds bicultural competence in her teaching, including reo ā-ture (legal language) and Māori perspectives on Natural Resources Law in every topic of a third-year course.

Co-design, group discussion and skills-based workshops feature across her teaching. She mentors senior students and colleagues and has initiated innovative curriculum changes.

UC Library Kaitakawaenga Ako Lisa Davies (Ngāi Tahu) has been awarded the Hapori Community of Practice Award, which acknowledges people who make an impact on an aspect of learning and teaching within a particular community at UC.

Lisa has been honoured for her support of ākonga in the Master of Māori and Indigenous Leadership degree. Her support is important because the programme has a diverse group of ākonga, many who have come through alternative entry pathways and as adult learners.

Lisa, who has been learning te reo for several years, provides students with critical research skills including information literacy, referencing and technology skills, with a te reo Māori and a tikanga Māori lens. She has also been integral in developing students’ research capability and confidence to continue on to doctoral study.  

Each Teaching Award winner receives $1500 towards teaching-related activities. The University of Canterbury Teaching Awards will be presented at the upcoming event Hui Whakamānawa | Celebration of Success on 29 November.

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