Vice-Chancellor's Teaching Excellence Awards celebrated virtually

Sunday 10 April 2022
Exceptional teachers across Massey University were honoured at the virtual Vice-Chancellor's Teaching Excellence Awards ceremony in February 2022.

Winners of the Vice-Chancellor's Teaching Excellence Awards: Dr Colin Bjork, Associate Professor Carolyn Gates, Dr Angela Feekery and Dr Maggie Hartnett.

Provost Professor Giselle Byrnes says recognising and celebrating the effort and mahi of staff in what has been an extraordinary two years, is an important part of Massey’s role as an employer and learning institution.

“Our staff and their mahi are critical to the success of our organisation and the experience tauira have. Taking the time to reflect on each winner’s contribution over the past year and the impact their work is having is a highlight for me. The winners of these awards, as well as others who took the time to apply, embody everything Massey stands for and I want to congratulate them on their achievements.”

Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas presented Dr Collin Bjork from the School of Humanities Media and Creative Communication with the Early Career Award for exhibiting a student-centred approach to his teaching. The judging panel commended Dr Bjork’s consideration of the needs and backgrounds of his students and the way he adjusts his teaching to accommodate them.

Dr Bjork’s commitment to supporting the university’s efforts to be Tiriti-led was also acknowledged by the panel. He takes his office-hours to the students by running them at Te Rau Tauawhi and his Getting Published course includes a critique of the Western-dominated means of distributed knowledge.

Dr Bjork says teaching is a collaborative activity, and awards like this are not possible without the rich community of teachers at Massey.

“I'm grateful to all of those people who have taught me what it means to be a university educator here in Aotearoa.”

Professor Thomas also presented awards for Sustained Excellence in Teaching to Associate Professor Carolyn Gates from the School of Veterinary Science, Dr Angela Feekery from the School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing and Dr Maggie Hartnett from the Institute of Education.

Dr Carolyn Gates’ portfolio showcases her work a vet educator and epitomises excellence in both teaching and evidence-based teaching research. The panel acknowledged her value as an excellent scholar, teacher, and colleague and her work producing online instructional materials that are grounded in research evidence.

“I feel humbled to receive a teaching award because there are a lot of truly amazing and underappreciated educators at Massey, particularly in the Vet School. In reflecting back on my teaching portfolio, I realised that I never really appreciated how little I actually knew about veterinary medicine until I started having to teach it. I am incredibly grateful to my colleagues and my students for their support in helping me develop as both an educator and clinician over the past seven years,” Dr Gates says.

Dr Angela Feekery’s portfolio documents a challenging, career-defining change to her teaching context. A move from working with small classes to coordinating a very large class with a complex assessment and learning delivery approach required Dr Feekery to change her teaching practices to suit the new environment and laid the foundation for innovative teaching practice, course materials and learning systems, and made a significant difference to the student experiences and learning.

Dr Feekery says she is thrilled to have won this award.

“I have been teaching for 22 years and every year, without fail, I continue to grow as an educator. Teaching is not a solo endeavour. I have had wonderful mentors throughout my career, and I am fortunate to lead and learn from an amazing teaching team. Of course, I must also thank my students, for I am not a teacher without them. It’s an absolute privilege to be part of their lives and learning.”

Dr Maggie Hartnett’s use of assessment to facilitate learning that is relevant, applied and focused on where the students are in their learning journey was the key factor in her portfolio. The panel described her as a dedicated teacher whose commitment to student success is evident in high completion rates and the positive student feedback received over a sustained number of years, and commended how she places her students at the centre of all she does by focusing on the development of quality learning spaces, assessment, and engagement.

“It is an honour to receive this award. For me, students have taught me as much as I have them. My most fulfilling experiences as a teacher have been seeing the world open-up for students as they take control of their learning and move forward in ways that are empowering and enable them to make meaningful change in their workplaces and communities,” Dr Hartnett says.

The University Learning and Teaching Committee is about to start a process of reviewing the university teaching awards following a recent announcement from Ako Aotearoa of significant changes to the National Teaching Excellence Awards. Information about this, and what it means for the 2022 awards, will be made available in the next few months.