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Professor Ingrid Day, Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Academic & International), Dr Zoe Jordens,
Dr Elizabeth Gray, Associate Professor Andy Martin, Liz Norman, Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey
and Professor Mark Brown, Director, National Centre for Teaching and Learning at the
teaching excellence award ceremony

Massey names its top teachers

Four Massey University teachers, in fields as diverse as veterinary medicine, design, microbiology and communications, have won this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Teaching Excellence.

Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey presented the awards for sustained commitment to teaching excellence at a ceremony at the Manawatu campus today.

Dr Elizabeth Gray, Liz Norman, Dr Zoe Jordens and Amanda Yates were recognised as the University’s top teachers for 2012.

Mr Maharey told the ceremony teachers transform lives. “All of us can look back during our lifetime and we meet some teacher at some time who switched the light on and made an impact on our lives.”

This year’s winners made lasting impressions on students but were also leaders in new ways of teaching. There is a shift in learning so students leave University “not only knowing things but how to do things”, Mr Maharey explained.

It was a sentiment shared by Dr Elizabeth Gray who says teaching is about change. “If we are effective teachers, we are teaching to effect change.”

Dr Gray is a senior lecturer in the School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing. She teaches internally and by distance, with students from as far as Tanzania, Dubai and China.

Her teaching is underpinned by her belief the words we use make a difference, whether in business or literary analysis. She says a good teacher has expertise and enthusiasm, loves to teach and loves what they teach. She also makes sure learning is relevant, innovative and when in a lecture theatre talks “to and not at” students.

For Liz Norman, a senior lecturer and director of the Master of Veterinary Medicine (MVM) programme, good teachers know what their students need to know and can help them connect theory and practice in their profession.

She joined Massey in 2001 and has developed the MVM, a distance learning programme for practicing veterinarians worldwide, which has grown from 13 enrolled students in 2004 to 92 this year.

Ms Norman strives to go “beyond the textbook” and has developed innovative strategies to engage with students, including online tools that mimic real steps in case investigation and “replay” exercises and tutorials to provide feedback. “It is one of my great joys to see students gain the confidence and practical insights from teaching that helps them no only to do their work but to enjoy their work more,” she says.

Dr Zoe Jordens is a lecturer at the Institute of Molecular Biosciences and sees her teaching role as facilitator, or “tour guide”. She uses a student-centred, inquiry-led approach to teaching.  

Dr Jordens worked as a researcher in medical microbiology in the United Kingdom before coming to Massey in 2002 and believes students learn by doing.  “By being treated as scientists in an authentic environment, students develop scientific ways of thinking, in addition to learning facts and practical skills.”

As well as having a BSc (Hons) and PhD in microbiology, Dr Jordens gained a postgraduate certificate in tertiary teaching in 2007 and a postgraduate diploma in Education in 2011. She is currently enrolled in a Masters in Education.

Amanda Yates has been at Massey since 2004 and is a senior lecturer at the Institute of Design for Industry and Environment, College of Creative Arts. She has a research-led project-based approach to learning. She believes giving students opportunities to work on “live” projects outside the classroom builds skills, confidence and passion.

To her, design is not just a field of study or a potential job – it is a passion, a way of thinking, and she loves seeing students succeed.

“I get emails from some of those students who were struggling – and they are now doing a Master of Design in New York or working with one of New Zealand’s leading architects. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that I helped them onto their life path.”

Ms Yates will receive her award in Wellington next month.

Associate Professor Andy Martin was also awarded the Assistant Vice-Chancellor Academic Fellowship at the ceremony today. He will work with staff to develop a comprehensive Applied Learning Strategy for the University. 

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