Rachel Spronken Smith, 2016

Dean of the Graduate Research School at the University of Otago.

Rachel started her career as a geographer at the University of Canterbury and became interested in research into higher education in the early 2000s while studying for a Postgraduate Certificate and Diploma in Tertiary Teaching at the Higher Education Development Centre, University of Otago. Rachel’s interest and success in her studies led to an appointment as a Senior Lecturer in HEDC in 2004. She has worked as an academic developer and was Head of Department from 2009-2012.

Rachel left HEDC in 2012 and is currently Dean of the Graduate Research School. When not invovled in administrative duties she still teaches and supervises in both higher education and geography and is an active researcher in higher education. Her teaching was recognised with a University of Canterbury Teaching Award in 2002, an OUSA Supervision Award in 2012, a University of Otago Teaching Award in 2013 and a national Sustained Excellence in Teaching Award in 2015.

Rachel's interests in higher education research include learning through inquiry and undergraduate research, the teaching-research nexus, curriculum change, graduate attributes and aspects of the student experience. She regularly undertakes consultancy work for university and polytechnic staff wishing to undertake curriculum renewal, especially when the focus is on embedding inquiry in curricula.

Rachel has chaired an international conference on higher education and been part of the organising committee for the HERDSA TERNZ conferences. She has been an active contributor to the field and has been prolific in her publications in higher education.

Associate Professor Eva Heinrich, 2015

School of Engineering & Advanced Technology at Massey University, New Zealand.

Eva has made a significant contribution to research into the use of technology to improve teaching and learning. In recent years this research has focused on online assessment of assignments, and the use of ePortfolios. In both these areas Eva has been centrally involved in major externally funded research projects leading to numerous scholarly outputs.

While Eva’s research will add to the academic record, it is the impact of this research on the academic community, especially students, that is particularly important. Eva’s research on assessment has directed the development of the assignment tool in Moodle, which is used in over eighty thousand sites worldwide and by millions of students.

Eva is an award winning teacher, recognized within Massey University as an exceptional academic. Eva has won the Darrilyn O’Dea Award for her work incorporating technology tools to extend student engagement. She actively contributes to the university community through academic development events and through her brilliant teaching in computer science.

From her Doctorate of Philosophy in 2000 to her Doctor of Education in 2013, Eva has demonstrated sustained excellence in researching teaching and learning. This has impacted the students she teaches as well as students worldwide as the results of her research are implemented. Recently Eva complemented her discipline PhD with a Doctor of Education which explored how teaching groups can improve learning about teaching.

Barbara Grant, 2014

Helen Sword, 2013

Tony Harland, 2012

Nick Zepke and Linda Leach, 2011

Associate Professor Neil Haigh, 2010

Centre for Learning and Teaching, AUT University

For over 40 years Neil has promoted the development of a scholarly and professional teaching environment in New Zealand as seen in his carefully researched teaching, his presentations and publications on educational research and his advocacy for a national teaching body. In a career spanning the coming of age of educational research, he has promoted teaching, including postgraduate supervision, as a subject worthy of academic research, endorsed government directives for research–led teaching, published on the scholarship of learning and teaching, broadened the activities of the NZ branch of HERDSA and spearheaded the inception of a national body which aims inter alia to advance tertiary teaching through research.

Neil promotes research–led teaching by examining the concept in presentations, supporting academics in their development as teachers of research-led teaching and collaborating with discipline-based colleagues in articles. Many of his joint publications (e. g in accounting, science, and health education) are a result of his support for colleagues as researchers of their discipline teaching, encouraged by his bibliographies of journals for discipline–based education.

In New Zealand Neil has been a key figure in two multi-site, nationally funded research projects: The Teaching Matters Forum and the Teaching & Learning Enhancement Initiatives as attested by numerous publications and presentations (see publications).

He has ensured currency with wider developments in educational research by attending international conferences, by inviting key figures to NZ (e.g. Fred Lockwood, Mick Healey), and in external examining and reviewing (HERDSA, ISSOTL). At the same time he has promoted indigenous perspectives through workshops and bibliographies and fostered a NZ research environment through conferences (HERDSA, TERNZ) and active membership of professional bodies.

The comprehensiveness of his contribution can be evidenced in his legacy at the two universities where he has worked. At the University of Waikato as Director of the Teaching Development Unit he inaugurated a postgraduate certificate (PGCTT) to engender a more scholarly approach to learning and teaching. More recently as Associate Professor at AUT, Neil has fostered the research-teaching nexus and built research capability from early beginnings.

Ako Aotearoa is in large part due to Neil’s energy and commitment to a national body. He was “the first who articulated the vision” (Gould, 2007), “ the pioneer visionary behind the concept” (Cullen, 2007), consulting key interest groups, making submissions and advising on structures. He was the AUT representative on the Massey-led consortium bidding to host Ako Aotearoa, and has continued to support the growing status and increasing influence of this body.

Neil’s overall contribution to research in NZ has been broad and generous and positions him as a leader in the NZ educational research community. Not for him a lifetime focus on one narrow field for publication. He belongs to the community, gives back to the community and nurtures the next generation of leaders of research. He models the research-led teaching he actively promotes, he challenges himself with emerging fields of research and shares his enthusiasm for the academic endeavours of a researcher.

Neil is a fitting recipient of the inaugural TERNZ medal for sustained contribution to the New Zealand research environment.

Cullen, M. (2007, November 1). Sharing the Knowledge of Tertiary Teaching Excellence. Retrieved from http://www.infonews.co.nz/news.cfm?id=8841
Gould, B. (2007). Ako Aotearoa Annual Report 2006-2007. Retrieved from akoaotearoa.ac.nz/download/.../n915-ako-aotearoa-annual-report-2007.pdf

HERDSA - Higher Education Research & Development Society of Australasia
ISSOTL - International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning
PGCTT - Postgraduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching
TERNZ - Tertiary Education Research in New Zealand